When you say Ajax Cape Town, you say singing, dancing and happiness, but also a lot of fighting spirit. Last weekend at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, they showed all of it. Ajax Cape Town came to Amsterdam with an extremely young squad for an U19 tournament: 3 15-year-olds and 6 16-year-olds got the chance to show their skills.
So it was no surprise the tournament was a tough one for the Cape Town youngsters: they drew against Sparta Rotterdam and Sagan Tosu, lost to Ajax Amsterdam and lost the battle for bronze against Sagan tosu.
But the pride and happiness remains, also with 16-year-old captain Liam Bern: “It’s amazing to participate in a tournament like this. We’re in the middle of the season in South Africa, but all games are postponed so that we could go to Amsterdam”, he smiles.
A tour at Ajax’ training ground De Toekomst was part of the trip as well and Liam was quite impressed: “It was so big and everything looked so beautiful and professional.” He tries to follow Ajax Amsterdam from South Africa as good as possible and watched Ajax in the Champions League. His biggest example? Matthijs de Ligt, who is playing in the same position as he is.
But Lassina Traoré has become an example for the Cape Town youngsters as well. He is the most recent player that made the step from Cape Town to Amsterdam. It’s exactly what Liam and his teammates are dreaming about as well: “I already feel like I’m part of the Ajax family. Ajax Cape Town is like the little brother and everybody looks up to big brother Ajax Amsterdam.”
Ajax Cape Towns first team had some tough seasons. Last year they relegated from the South African Premier League. Ajax sent former Jong Ajax coach Andries Ulderink to South Africa to get the team promoted, but he did not succeed last season. Nevertheless, the club just extended his contract with 2 years.
With the mediocre results of Ajax Cape Towns first team in mind, the dream to make the step to Europe might have become even bigger for the youth players. “It would be amazing to make the step, like Lassina Traoré has done. My goal is to play in Europe in about 2 or 3 years. Playing for Ajax Amsterdam is my biggest dream.”
Judging by the young captains performances last weekend at the Next Gen Series, it is not even a strange thought.