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‘We play football here from our hearts and not for the money…’

In the latest issue of Life After Football, the focus was on a love for the game and few people represent that more than this special futsal club from Rotterdam. The multicultural TPP play right next to Feyenoord’s De Kuip and embody the city as much the Eredivisie giants do.

Here is our feature on the club from issue 57 of Life After Football, available to buy now via the shop.

WORDS: GABRIELA PETRALIA  PHOTOS: WILLEM DE KAM

When we walk into the Topsport Center next to the Kuip on Rotterdam-Zuid, we immediately feel a sense of warmth – a family feeling. TPP, the futsal club that trains a few evenings a week, is a mix of boys from the neighbourhood – even though the team consists of different cultures, TPP only has one: the TPP culture.

The TPP team consists exclusively of Rotterdam boys who live, work or study in the port city. The team consists of the Dutch, Moroccans, Turks, Antilleans and Javanese – yet all those nationalities fit together well. I also feel that everyone understands each other. That everyone has their own story and grew up in different places in Rotterdam. But when the players are together in the futsal hall, all differences disappear. Team TPP is one.

Abdul Marbah, trainer of TPP and renamed ‘Appie’ by the players, knows the team from the time that it was called TPP / Soccer Showdown. At that time he was taken to the group by Soufiane Touzani to train the boys. When I speak to the players, I understand why Appie is the right leader and why he is so loved. ‘He himself grew up in Rotterdam and has the same street mentality as we do’, says Soufian Charraoui, who joined the club five seasons ago.

Soon it becomes clear that Soufian is a special member of the team. Through a project from TPP and sports organisation, Challenge010, he ended up at the club aged 16. Appie: “Soufian is really an asset to the team, he performs very well.” Challenge010 has even helped him so effectively that he can now lead the project to Feyenoord. ‘He is living proof that this project is successful.’

FAMILY FEELING

What makes the team so special?

Appie: “You notice that these teammates also meet away from the pitch. When they have won, they hang together at Lijn 2 (teahouse in Rotterdam-Zuid, ed.). Other teams and other players, after the match or the training, they go home immediately.”

Wessel Verhaar, who has been at TPP for more than four seasons, explains: “Everyone is very loyal. It has not always been going well with the club, but everyone keeps coming.” There wasn’t always the financial resources that the club has now but for Koen van der Leeden, who has been here for almost a decade, that doesn’t even matter. “We play here from our hearts and not for the money. We have seen bad times, but now that we are at Feyenoord, we are hoping for better times.”

To read more about this unique and ambitious futsal team, pick up a copy of the latest Life After Football magazine.