Johan Cruyff’s 14 rules for playing football on the streets

Johan Cruyff playing for Ajax with his famous number 14 / MANNERS MAGAZINE VIA ANP

On the fourteenth day of each month, Blaugranagram will share a story related to FC Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff.

Johan Cruyff died in March 2016, but he is still seen as one of the people with a lot of impact on FC Barcelona. Both his time in Catalonia as a player and as a coach completely transformed the club and the city. Although Cruyff played with the number 9 shirt at Barça, he is known in the rest of the world for his famous use of the number 14. Therefore, on the fourteenth day of each month, we will publish an article related to a story or quote about or by Johan. This month, we’ll tell you more about Cruyff’s passion for playing on the streets and the 14 rules he made for his famous Cruyff Courts.

Young ‘Jopie’ Cruyff grew up on the Akkermanstraat in Amsterdam, just a few blocks away from De Meer (Ajax’ stadium back then). His parents Manus and Nel owned a shop called Cruijff’s Potatoes in the same neighborhood (Betondorp). Johan started playing street football at a very young age together with his older brother Henny. He claims that these years were fundamental for making him the player he later became.

Some video fragments of a young Johan Cruyff playing football on the streets / YouTube channel ‘THE BEST OF JOHAN CRUIJFF’

Cruyff had some interesting things to say about playing outside, including the fact that he learned to dribble because he was too small for the ball. “I was so tiny that I would already fall over if somebody sneezed next to me. I always played with boys that were way bigger than me, so I had to avoid bumping into them. Because I was so small, I didn’t have enough power to kick the ball, which forced me to keep dribbling all the time.”

“The goalkeepers would often be younger brothers from the older guys. They were allowed to play with the rest, but had to go in goal. Nobody ever wanted to be in goal, all the young kids wanted to attack and score goals. Everything used to be simple. Anyone who played football on the streets got better. Now that street football has disappeared, everything has become theoretical. Six-year-old boys are trained by people who have diplomas in football. I don’t think they should have trainers until they are 12. Training should respect the characteristics of street football as much as possible. The street is the real learning place for young talent.”

“Street football is very old, but it has changed a lot. They started organizing it. I would like it to return to what it once was. No one has ever run into a lamppost or tripped over a curb or tram track while playing. You learn to play football because you closely watch your surroundings. That practical experience on the street is the best development. You learn while playing. On the street you develop your technique, overview, condition, character and intuition. Football should be played with a smile. You have to enjoy it.”

The 14 rules that must be respected on Cruyff Courts / THE JOHAN CRUYFF FOUNDATION

To make sure everyone has a place to play football outside, Cruyff and his foundation invented the ‘Cruyff Court’. These special fields have been created in neighborhoods all around the world, mostly in The Netherlands and Spain. A Cruyff Court is usually opened by a special athlete or person. In The Netherlands, the winner of the Johan Cruyff Award for biggest talent of the Eredivisie wins the opportunity to open a Cruyff Court in his own city.

To make sure everyone can enjoy the court to the fullest, Cruyff and his foundation set up 14 ground rules when they opened the first court that apply to every new one that gets built:

  1. Teamplayer: to accomplish things, you have to do it together.
  2. Responsibility: take care of things like they were your own.
  3. Respect: respect one another.
  4. Integration: involve others in your activities.
  5. Initiative: dare to try something else
  6. Coaching: always help each other within a team.
  7. Personality: be yourself.
  8. Social involvement: crucial in sports, and even more so in life in general.
  9. Technique: the basics.
  10. Tactics: know what to do.
  11. Development: sports develop body and soul.
  12. Learn: try to learn something new every day.
  13. Play together: an essential part of the game.
  14. Creativity: the beauty of sports.