‘Training trainers and talents according to the vision of Ajax’

The Ajax Coaching Academy shares the training philosophy of Ajax with clubs, coaches, players and interested parties. The focus is on training and inspiring talented players and trainers at home and abroad.

Salden, who was active at, among others, AZ, Haarlem, SC Telstar and FC Volendam, joined Ajax’s youth academy from 2019 as a trainer. “I have always had the ambition to one day work abroad. When I started at Ajax at the O13/O14, I knew that the club offered these possibilities through the Ajax Coaching Academy.”

The 48-year-old trainer went to the O15/O16 after one season at the O13 and O14. “After three years of training the youth of Ajax, I indicated in December that I wanted to go for a foreign adventure. That arose from my drive and ambition to always work in a different culture. I then took the step into the deep without knowing if anything would come my way.”

After some talks with the Ajax Coaching Academy, Salden decided to stay within Ajax and make the switch from the youth academy to the Coaching Academy and see if something was possible. “We talked about what I wanted and about my options. For example, the ACA came to me a short time ago to become head of youth academy at FC Sharjah and my ambition became concrete.”

Salden was given the opportunity to watch FC Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates for a week. “After I accepted the challenge, I went there for a week to get acquainted and experience everything. That was very good for my image. In addition, there are already three colleagues there, they also gave me the necessary information.”

During the visit, Salden spoke with the president of the club and the board members about their expectations. “As the ACA, we have an assignment there: to take the cooperation with FC Sharjah to a higher level. But to hear how they talk about Ajax, Cruijff and total football is very nice.”

The greatest responsibility that Ajax has at FC Sharjah is the training and development of trainers. “Educating top talents and local trainers according to the vision of Ajax. To ultimately become the best youth academy in the Emirates.”

According to Salden, they are on the right track. “Emotionally they belong to the top five, although I find it difficult to make that estimate now. There is so much possible that it is important to continue to develop everything and everyone there. Our work should not be effective for two or three years, but pay off in the long run, that’s the goal.”

Salden says he ends up in a ‘completely different world’ in the United Arab Emirates. “The car is central there and the bicycle is not used. It is so hot out there that you really can’t take a walk every moment of the day. You go from air conditioning to air conditioning.”

The youth of the Future also goes to school at Ajax. That is not possible at FC Sharjah. “In the Emirates there is not such a collaboration with the school as in Amsterdam. As a result, there is no training in the morning. Perhaps that is something they do want in the long term to allow players to develop optimally. The focus in terms of training times, partly due to the weather, this is in the afternoon and evening.”

Together with his wife, Salden made the choice to move to the Middle East. “From the start she had the intention to go abroad. Two of my three children still live at home and are fully engaged in their studies. They will continue to live in our house.”

“It is a conscious choice of mine and a wish that I have had for a long time. Everyone in our family knew that this was going to happen one day. Fortunately, the distance is ‘shorter’ these days because of social media and the flying possibilities. This opportunity was no discussion for us.”

Salden signs for one year and will head there in the second week of July to start. “We will see how everyone likes it during the season. I am really looking forward to it.”