Patrick Hoep is an ex-professional football player who is using football as a force for good while positively impacting lives across the world.
Patrick Hoep is a former professional football player with SC Heerenveen and the Dutch National U’20 squad. He was a very promising defender with a bright future ahead of him when his short-lived career as a pro-player was stripped from him when a persistent knee injury forced him to retire at the tender age of 22. This is his story of how he fell in and out of love with the beautiful game and how he has rekindled his passion for the most popular sport on the planet by using it as a force for societal good.
Patrick grew up in a small village near the city of Heerenveen in the North East of The Netherlands. Sports and adventure formed the basis of his childhood. He lived not far from a small football complex and it was here that a passion for the game ignited inside of him when he started to train with the local team. Technically sound training was hard to come by as the club didn’t have any qualified trainers, but not to be deterred, he and a friend decided to create their own daily football training exercises inspired by the great 1995 team of Ajax Amsterdam.
On one sunny day the first team of SC Heerenveen decided to use the football fields of his local club during summer time for trainings, where Patrick could witness players like John Dalh Tomasson, Jeffrey Talan and Igor Korneev – the dream was born, he wanted to become like them. Not long after he received an invitation letter from that same club to participate in the selection trial days together with his good friend. They went there but so were many other talented players. He didn’t pass the trial. This first setback did not stop him from dreaming of it and pursuing it with an even more determined mindset. At the end of the season again an invitation letter from Sc Heerenveen arrived, this time nobody could stop him. He passed the trials and was asked to play for the Heerenveen U13 team the next season. From there he never stopped being hungry to reach the first team and spent the next 10 years playing for the same club.
When Patrick was growing up, life was not easy. His parents had split up and he lived with his mum and sister. Life was tough. His mum started to work 3 jobs to make ends meet but at the same time it gave him more motivation to make it as a professional football player and make the situation at home better. At the age of 18 he started to have serious knee problems. He continued training hard but at just 22 it looked like his career was over; a badly damaged knee ligament was the diagnosis. He was injured three more times on his knee that year and the club did not renew his contract. He was about to lose the one thing he loved the most. He stopped playing a broken man, devastated that his dream had been stopped. To take his mind off his situation he packed his bags and started travelling to escape the reminders of what could have been.
He learned the hard way that a positive attitude is more valuable in life than only talent.
“I decided to change Amsterdam for Rio de Janeiro for a year, where I found my big passion for football again. I started to train kids in the favela’s together with a local organization on a football for development project.”
After a few years of studying, traveling and doing everything except football, there was an empty space inside him. He was missing something. Ten years of training day in day out on a professional level makes a big impact, as well as providing an immense amount of football knowledge. He also recognized that there were millions of unprivileged children around the world dreaming to receive that knowledge. He decided to replace Amsterdam for Rio de Janeiro for a year, where he re-found his passion for football. Patrick took a chance and started to train the kids in the favela’s together with a local not-for-profit organization which was using football as a community development project. He witnessed firsthand how football could be used as a change agent and make a positive social impact which seems like a millions miles away from the game and modern superstars we can see mostly on TV. The project in the Favelas literally kept kids away from drugs and gang violence. There were zero opportunities and facilities for the youth and they were completely and socially excluded from society. Some days there were flying bullets accompanied by gangs and police. It was a scary place but he realized that he had to use football as a weapon to solve problems like these.
Patrick took matters into his own hands and set up the Favela United youth project – a football development program inspiring the youth while creating change makers among youngsters from marginalized communities by using the transformational power of football. Favela United provides the children with the essential skills, education and tools to become champions of their own destiny.
He kicked-off in 2014 with the Favela “Rio” United project, which was set up as a World Cup legacy. In 2015, they extended Favela United to Mozambique. Overwhelmed by the inequality, marginalization and stigmatization that the youth face in the townships, they transformed, together with some passionate community coaches, Favela United in to more than a football school.
The Favela United Foundation is an accredited Dutch registered charity, and Patrick can still rely on the support of his old footballing friends to boost awareness for his cuase. His old teammate Reza Ghoochannejhad (World Cup player Iran and striker SC Heerenveen) in an Ambassador of Favela United for the upcoming Inclusive World Cup, which they are setting up in Maputo, Mozambique. With Iran participating in the World Cup in Russia this summer, Reza will be a true role model and inspiration for the youth that Patrick is so desperately trying to help towards a better life.
With all eyes on Russia for the FIFA World Cup 2018 it is important not forget about children on the other side of the world, where youth still fight against social exclusion, discrimination and disease. Favela United aims to ensure that they feel included in this beautiful game.
During 30 days from June 16th, mixed teams of girls and boys from 16 different communities, including street children, will meet on the pitch to play and celebrate the beautiful game of football. The tournament has been designed to equally challenge players’ soft skills off the pitch as well as their skill on it. The field is their spotlight, a safe place where they all can enjoy the freedom of the game and feel included.
When asked what he hopes for most from the Inclusive World Cup, Patrick modestly answers;
“I hope that I can inspire lots of youth and people from the communities to become local change makers for the next generation of children and support them to receive the essential life changing skills, education and tools to create a better future for themselves and their community. By putting all my passion and effort in the work I do, I hope to leave great moments of happiness and success stories for the people and community at large.”
As part of our philosophy at Crafted Society to use Luxury for GOOD™ we will support the Favela United project by donating 5% of our sales between April through the end of May to support the project. Great craftsman come in many forms, but every great Craftsman or Craftswoman needs an education and mentor whether it be in the workshop of out on the field of play – access to education, discipline and an ultimate passion are the deciding factors in becoming masters of their destiny. Our hope is that by supporting a project like this, we can provide an educational framework and environment which can provide both hope and opportunity to create a future generation of masters in which ever craft or community they wish for.Patrick Hoep was speaking to Martin Johnston – Founder & co-pilot of Crafted Society™.
To learn more about Favela United and the Inclusive World Cup visit www.favela-united.com
To learn more about Crafted Society visit www.craftedsociety.com