Location and general information
Inspired by a strong desire to give back to the community Giovanni van Bronckhorst (former captain of the Dutch national football team with 106 caps) and his wife Marieke established the Giovanni van Bronckhorst Foundation (GvB Foundation) in 2008. After supporting third-party projects for several years, the idea came about to alter the goals of the foundation and for it to start focusing on the development of its own projects.
What seemed to be lacking were projects aimed at closing gaps in learning and promoting sports and a healthy lifestyle to children, especially in the deprived parts of South Rotterdam, which is home to football club Feyenoord and the area where Giovanni grew up.
Giovanni and Marieke felt that the challenges of this area were something they could tackle, after all sport offered Giovanni many opportunities to grow and improve his life chances. Marieke's passion for teaching was born when she started studying for her primary school teaching qualifications. This was back when the pair were living in Glasgow and Giovanni was playing for Glasgow Rangers (1998–2001).
The GvB Foundation believes that every child deserves to become the best version of themselves. In football you have to learn quickly to create opportunities on the spot to improve the game. At S.V. GIO children are shown strategies and skills to recreate these opportunities in their day-to-day lives.
The Foundation also aims to provide children with a boost in their last two years at primary school in order to prepare them for a more successful educational path. At S.V. GIO children work hard and play hard, both individually and as a team, to overcome any academic obstacles and to re-establish a genuine sense of self-esteem.
S.V. GIO’s flagship project: best in class sports education
This sports education programme offers guidance to children in the last two years of Dutch primary school, coaching them like world-class athletes and helping them get off to a good start at secondary school. As part of an intensive 20-week programme, children meet up once a week to participate in sports and to work on the subjects they are struggling with at school. S.V. GIO also provides a programme for refugee children which helps them to settle into their new environment.
Sharing knowledge across Europe
The content of the project has been continually revised and developed over the last six years and the GvB Foundation is now sharing its expertise with other players, player foundations, clubs, club foundations, youth centres and educators across Europe.
- Help disadvantaged children in large cities to develop their core life skills, therefore overcoming personal and social barriers and improving their educational and career prospects, by engaging with them at a crucial developmental stage, i.e. the transition from primary to secondary school.
- Promote sports participation, thereby improving the health of undernourished children.
- Through Gio’s network of former clubs (such as Glasgow Rangers and FC Barcelona) and with the help of other organisations, encourage and embolden other clubs, players and managers to use this proven model to help many other children in cities and towns around the world.
- Create an opportunity for underprivileged children who are unable to go on a summer holiday and give them an unforgettable educational and sports-focused summer with their favourite football club.
- Broaden children’s horizons by giving them the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.
- Further develop and improve the content of S.V. GIO by exchanging coaches and knowledge internationally.
Alongside the 20-week programme, two separate summer school events are being organised for summer 2019, one in London and one in Glasgow. Each course will last two days. There will be eight coaches training the 40 children attending, supervised by one head coach. The coaches are being trained by Paul van Zwam and Mano Radema, both from the Netherlands, who together with Giovanni developed the S.V. GIO learning method. The coaches are trained in line with this method and therefore the principles of the Feyenoord youth training and education programme also apply.
Within the project there are several building blocks related to resiliency. These include, among many others, goal setting, problem solving, cooperation and taking responsibility. As such, the expectation is to see an enormous increase in resiliency. Children’s awareness of healthy eating and sporting activities should also be increased and it is hoped that they will have fun in the process!