Oranjes were fighting out with two-time FIFA World Cup winner La Albiceleste and neither of them were ready to throw in the towel even after Hundred and Twenty minutes of grueling football. The Big bald guy in the Orange outfit stepped up to nail it, but here came the twist. Dutch camp fell aghast, Argentina and another nation, separated by not less than sixteen thousand kilometers, erupted. None was there to console the bloke, unarguably the toughest sturdy defender whose sublime performance paved the path for Netherlands to a third spot finish. India was introduced to the robust Dutch defense general, Ron Vlaar.
Ron Vlaar, the Aston Villa defender, never feels shy to speak up for them who struggle every single day to make a square meal. Ron, a professional footballer who earns in millions, shows no distress to spend with the kid who has no shoulder to rest; Ron, who spends every minute in opulence and grandeur, shares the hut with bunch of unprivileged children blissfully and pays heed to their unheard story.
Yojana Foundation is the NGO which is supported by Ron Vlaar for last ten years. The Dutch international was quite touched by their approach and didn’t think twice to be appointed as their brand ambassador around five years back. As the English Premier League season wrapped up, Ron Vlaar packed his baggage and flew all the way to India to spend some time with those kids who are being nurtured, honed by none other than Yojana. The chap, who is acquainted with ansnazzy lifestyle, spent almost two-weeks with those kids who witnessed their dreams unfolding ahead of their eyes.
Ron Vlaar bid them adieu with a heavy heart and headed to the Bharat FC camp to spend an afternoon with the prodigies who fondle the leather. Within the extremely busy schedule, Ron Vlaar took his time out for I-League Medua while he spoke candidly on his first India tour, how Indian football could attain the next level and his utmost desire to come to India again.
Being from a country of football academies, how would you assess the Indian prodigies?
I think cricket acquires the top-priority spot in Indian sports but Football comes first for Dutch. I noticed cricket is being played everywhere; football needs much attention in India. There are colossal opportunities in India and the future of the sports is bright enough, I believe there is abundance of talents among those youngsters. Proper guidance, shrewd attention and well-built infrastructures are the need of the hour to hone these prodigies. Once they start to flow in numbers, Indian football will reach its heyday.
With regards to nurturing prodigies, what did you notice from your 1st trip to India?
I believe this country has enough opportunities! It’s all about the youngsters who are the future of the country. Hygiene, Education should be taken care of. Over and above they must learn to respect others. Unless one builds one’s character, future would be in jeopardy.
Do you believe a strong sports background is essential to be a successful sports person akin you?
No, I don’t. The most important thing is to enjoy the things you do and to have fun doing it. There must not be any pressure to perform, be it studies, sports or any skill. The urge to attain the next level, to reach newer heights should evolve within you. My parents are avid sportsmen, though not professional, they were right on encouraging me and my sisters to scale greater heights. They never burdened with loads of expectations, the only thing they told us to go for it, without any expectations and enjoy every bit of it.
(Ron Vlaar’s mother Margaret was a handball player, while his father was an amateur football player. Vlaar’s two younger sisters, Ellen and Lisan, are both active in sports as well. Ellen is a gymnast and Lisan plays volleyball)
Where India must tap in ahead of the 2017 U17 World Cup to make it a grand success?
Broadcasting for sure. Once it’s on the television, not only the youngsters, everyone has a chance to witness it. Spontaneously they would put on the gear and hit the football ground. Just the catalyst is missing now, a fairer result in the 2017 U17 WC and nicer broadcasting would fill in the gap.
What are the pivotal changes could Yojana Foundation execute since its inception?
Yojana has been doing a mind blowing job throughout. Cees (Tompot) has been here more than 30 times and fed me with a lot of information, which was all true, but to experience everything with my own eyes, was truly amazing! So many children are going to school every day, girls are being serious about their future, women are taking up more responsibilities and many more unsaid anecdotes to share. I was really touched and overwhelmed observing the entire execution of Yojana Foundation.
What’s your take on Bharat FC & OSCAR Foundation’s initiatives for the betterment of Indian football?
That is something amazing, of course. It is easier said than done to embrace the street children and motivate them to live a joyous colourful life, but they have made it in reality. I lost my words while met those prodigies, they were so lively and unscathed. These guys deserve a salute from me. These are the tales which inspire us to be a human being, be it in Netherlands or India- it’s all about the human race.
Can we expect Ron Vlaar to sweat in India after he hangs his boots?
Yeah, why not! I definitely want to come back! I have already made a lot of new friends. It took 10 years to come over for the first time; hopefully it won’t take that long again (grins).
How did you like the weather and food in India?
Tasty, little spicy and delicious- that’s all I can say about the food. I had heard a lot about the spices, so had my precautions but frankly speaking, I didn’t need them at all. Since the rainy season arrived, temperature was in control and the atmosphere was really soothing. Even the local guys felt a bit chilly, but I was pretty ok in my shorts and tee.
(Interview & Photo courtesy I-League Media)