Cycling Team Co-owner Inspired by Sporting Directorship Course
Published 8 January 2019
Dutchman Martijn Berkhout is already a successful and respected figure in the world of professional cycling. But when faced with the decision of how to develop himself to the next level, only VSI’s MSc in Sports Directorship could provide the academic challenge he was looking for.
Berkhout is a partner at leading sport management firm, Sports Entertainment Group (SEG).
However, it’s his other role, as co-owner of the organisation’s Under-23 development team, SEG Racing Academy, which he believes can truly benefit from the course. The 34-year-old co-founded the academy in 2015 in order to provide the world’s most talented young cyclists with the tools to prosper in a 100 per cent clean environment.
“The creation of the academy was one of the reasons I wanted to make the bridge to this education in sport directorship,” said the Holland-based father-of-two, who started the course in September 2018.
“Because, at a certain point, you want to build something for the long-term, and that means you need to understand how you can build a high performance culture and environment. And you need to understand how you, as a leader in that organisation, can make sure it is progressing in the right way.
“That’s why I searched for an education which could help me go forwards and which I could apply directly in my work. The VSI course grabbed my attention immediately and I’m already implementing the skills – that’s what I hoped for and it’s even better than I expected.”
Berkhout previously studied sports management at the Johan Cruyff University and was fortunate enough to meet the Ajax and Barcelona greats on two occasions.
Already on the VSI course, Berkhout and his peers have been treated to a two-hour masterclass from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, a man who learned directly from Cruyff and a head coach who understands the sports directorship model intimately.
“When you meet those kinds of people, you will never forget it and it’s a huge inspiration” said Berkhout.
“When you reflect on the things Guardiola said and the theory we are already looking into, things start to make sense, and, by that nature, you are learning. That was an invaluable experience, but it’s also fantastic to meet people in your class who are in the same position; people who have achieved so much, but are already looking forward to the next level. That’s so inspiring.
“We have guys who fly in from Dubai and South Africa – these are people with a lot of commitment and they don’t have to do this, but they are super motivated, and they are taking the maximum out of this course. That is inspiring as well.”
Berkhout is committed to his agency and academy but says he is learning skills applicable not only to cycling, but to sports across the spectrum.
He said: “The course gives me a better idea of how to understand the staff you are working with, their qualities, and how to maximise those qualities.
“It’s the same for the people I am cooperating with – for example, the world tour team managers. I can see their strengths, I better understand their struggles, and it helps me to see who is a good manager and who is not.
“But it also gives me a better idea of how to understand the problems professional cycling is facing right now and in the future. And how I can play a more important role in the process of that.
“The course is difficult and it needs focus, time and commitment, but I am super keen to use this education to improve my skills as a leader and, through that, improve my organisation and the people I work with.”
For more information on the VSI MSc in Sports Directorship contact:
Tel: 0345 459 9765