‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
The Feyenoord squad spent Thursday afternoon at the port of Rotterdam. The playing and coaching staff, technical director Mark Wotte, technical advisor Wim Jansen and commercial director Sjaak Troost visited ECT and Odfjell, as part of the ‘Feyenoord meets the Port’ initiative, getting a behind the scenes look at one of the world’s biggest ports. The successful day – the first of its kind – is set to become a regular occasion on the preseason calendar. ‘It was a really interesting day,’ said Maikel Aerts.
‘This is great to see,’ continued Aerts. ‘This is really impressive and I’m glad to have the chance to see it from close by for once.’ Boussaboun was of the same opinion. The Moroccan striker was the first to take up the invitation to operate one of the cranes at ECT. ‘I really enjoyed it. You don’t normally come to the port and now I got to operate a crane. The people who work here are so enthusiastic, they tell you about their work from their heart. I recognise that in myself when I talk about football. Life is not only about football; you see that on a day like today. It’s really an immense port. Normally I’ll just drive past and now I have the chance to see it from close by. I’m glad I had this chance.’ The emergence of East Asia has pushed Rotterdam from its pedestal as number one port, explained Boussaboun. ‘The world’s biggest port is Singapore. It used to be Rotterdam, but not now. I saw that the other day on Discovery, which I enjoy watching. I follow everything and I find it interesting. That’s probably why the day is so interesting to me.’
Boussaboun was not the only one to show an interest. Serginho Greene was especially surprised by the length of the coach journey to the port. ‘We drove for forty-five minutes and we’re still in Rotterdam, what a big city man,’ laughed the defender. Hossam Ghaly: ‘This is where a lot of Feyenoord fans work, huh? It’s nice to see their workplace.’ Edwin de Graaf: ‘It’s good that we’ve come to have a look around here and show our interest. It’s normally the other way round, because a lot of employees come to De Kuip to encourage us. Behind all the technology, you can see that this work has many similarities with football.’
De Graaf was not the only one to make the link between sport and port. President Director Jan Westerhoud of terminal operator ECT spotlighted a number of similarities between his company and his favourite club. ‘We are both Rotterdam through and through, let’s say that straight away. What’s more, just like Feyenoord we play in the top division, where we are judged on our performances. Those performances could be better, for ECT and for Feyenoord. That’s where the challenge is for both of them,’ said Westerhoud. Dirk Kuyt then stepped forward to present a Feyenoord jersey signed by the whole squad to Westerhoud’s chauffeur Jan Wielaard. ‘I hope that helps because, believe me, it’s terrible sitting next to him for 45 minutes if Feyenoord lose,’ said Westerhoud.
The comparison between industry and football was made again at Odfjell. ‘Just like in football there has to be a well-oiled team, an attack, a defence, and you have to score,’ said General Manager Wim van der Sanden. Lastly, the city’s alderman for sport, Nico Janssens, had a personal word for Erwin Koeman. ‘We want to see fervour on the pitch this season, and that may lead to one or two yellow cards. A container sometimes falls off the truck and we sort that out too.’
But Feyenoord’s motto is not ‘no words but actions’ for nothing, so it was no surprise when a number of players took the opportunity to get their hands dirty. At ECT Bahia, Pardo, Bosschaart, Kuyt, Loovens, Paauwe, Boussaboun, Lazovic and Lodewijks all tried out their skills in the cranes. ‘The others didn’t dare,’ alleged Lazovic, who got some of his squad mates chuckling with his antics high above the ground, when he couldn’t hide his terror. The group also visited the control room at both companies, and took some time out to play a game of football in the parking lot at Odfjell.
‘It was a stimulating day. I’ve never been here before and I’m certainly impressed,’ concluded Koeman, before joining the group for the return boat trip down the Maas to De Kuip.