"The Netherlands is a world-class country in terms of sport"
Barely 2 months after starting with his MSc in Sport Business Management at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, Costa Rican student Rodrigo Ayarza, has found an internship with Dutch football club, NEC Nijmegen. Though he loves staying in the Netherlands and admires Dutch efficiency in service delivery, he misses Costa Rica’s warm weather, the beaches, his dog and the typical breakfast there gallo pinto – the ingredients of which he can reel off in meticulous order.
Rodrigo, how come you have both Dutch and Costa Rican citizenship?
I have Dutch citizenship thanks to my grandmother. She left the Netherlands as a child and went to Chile with her mother and 5 siblings. In Chile she met my grandfather and they went to Costa Rica with their children, including my mother of course, escaping from the communist system imposed by Allende.
When did you start your studies at Wittenborg and why did you choose to study here?
In September 2018. I chose Wittenborg because I wanted to come to the Netherlands and the programme is in English. I also liked the structure and syllabus of the programme.
What sort of career did you envisage for yourself when you chose this master's programme?
Back in Costa Rica I studied Business Administration and sport has always been my passion, and since I knew there are programmes that combine both, that is what I wanted. Moreover, the last three years in Costa Rica I worked for the Costa Rica Equestrian Federation, the Costa Rica Cricket Federation, and helped the National Olympic Committee too, which I liked a lot. All that led me to the next step, which was to do a master's program in order to enrich my knowledge and open my mind.
How did you find the internship at NEC Nijmegen?
Through a part-time job I met a guy with whom I had a lot in common and one of those things is a love for football. He told me that he was volunteering at NEC and invited me to help out, so I did. I started at NEC in November 2018.
What does the job entail?
For the internship I have to help in the Data and Innovation department by coding the youth team of NEC games for later analysis, and develop projects, of which one is to create a Strategic Plan for future revenue for the Data and Innovation Department, and the other one is to create a test to gather more objective data to evaluate the performance and skills of players by making them undergo different drills and tests.
What has been your experience as a student doing a programme offered by both Wittenborg and the University of Brighton?
It has been a great experience, maybe what I like the most are the lecturers - you can learn a lot about them and they are always willing to help everyone. You can see that they have a lot of experience in addition to good teaching and communication skills. Another good aspect is that all my sports classmates are from different countries which makes the lessons very interesting and gives it a global perspective.
What do you miss about Costa Rica?
I miss my family, my friends, my dog, the nice warm weather, the outstanding beaches, going to the stadium to watch my football team called Saprissa, being able to communicate in Spanish, and the typical food of my country, like the well-known gallo pinto - a typical breakfast which consists of rice and beans all mixed together, served with cheese, tortillas, sour cream, fried eggs and a cup of the best coffee in the world.
What do you like about the Netherlands?
Things I really like about the Netherlands are: to be able to cycle everywhere; to always feel safe and secure; the good service of the public transport (even though people here say that it could be better - I always tell them that you need to go to Costa Rica to know what bad service really is - ha ha). Even though I miss the weather in my country, it is nice to live in a place with the four seasons for the first time in my life; I have some family in the country who I really care about and I like to spend time with them; I also enjoy the architecture of houses and buildings, because it is very different from my country; I enjoy all the parks and forests here (as a good Costa Rican I love nature), also, I like all the historical places and various museums.
What are your long-term plans?
My plan is to stay in the Netherlands or in Europe (in a first-world country regarding sports matters) so I can learn and grow as a professional. I want to be able to analyse how sport is being managed here. Later, in 5 to 10 years, I can go back to Costa Rica and help improve the sports system and structure there for the good of the athletes and the essence of sport.
Would you recommend the Netherlands as a study destination?
I would definitely encourage people to study in the Netherlands for several reasons. For starters, language is not a problem - there are a lot of English programmes and English-speaking lecturers. Then, I have always been impressed by how a small country like the Netherlands has managed to be such an important player in different sectors, such as sport business, world politics and social affairs. I also like how the Dutch are so open-minded and objective when dealing with different issues and tasks.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press