Bart Muns, 19, of Amsterdam, exchanged his life in the Netherlands for adventure in the United States. Amstelvener chose an exercise that could be combined with his greatest passion: football!
A successful choice because he became the national champion, the best scorer of the tournament and the best player of the year. Ambitious Bart finished his first semester at junior college in Iowa and returned to Europe for vacation with his parents. We talked to him before he started his American dream again and moved to California.
Bart grew up in a real hockey family in Elsridge. ‘Both my parents and my two sisters played hockey in Pinocchio. But I chose football because I always thought it was so much fun ‘, Bart laughs. At the age of 4 I started at Sporting Martinez in Amsterdam. Then I went to Butenweld to play football one step ahead. Then I went to Ouderkerk, where I was soon able to move to the 1st team. ‘
I went to Plate Nord, which is now called Rembrandt Community School. Then I was very happy at Herman Wesselink College. In my spare time I was always on the football field. This is a very fun team game and it makes a lot of friends. ‘
Bart wanted to go into extreme football and decided to do it in the United States. ‘You have in the United States a mixture of study and sport that you do not have in the Netherlands. High level attracted me and going abroad seemed like a good experience. ‘Bart completed his 3 year MBO training in Marketing and Communication in 2 years and then flew to Iowa, USA to start junior college.
Bart wanted to go to a big university in the United States, but he looked too young and still didn’t deserve to play. I was guided by an organization that advised me to do the junior college path first. That way I can get to know the United States first. If I get my credits, I can go to a big university. ‘Bart explains how this works; ‘You have to make a film and do different things. The company sends this to various coaches at junior colleges in the United States. When they are interested, they respond and then offer you a scholarship. I had various offers and started weighing the pros and cons to come to the final exam based on the school. Of course, the feeling with the coach should also be good. I chose Southeastern Community College in Iowa, where I studied business. The direction I want to go is real estate, and since my mom is also a real estate agent, this study is getting very close to it. ‘
Bart explains that ‘college life’ is different than home. I still lived at home in Amsterdam and I was well cared for. I’m not a fan of American food, it’s usually greasy bites. ‘Bart hoped he would be assigned to a room with another Dutch guy, but it ended up being a boy from Madrid. ‘It was so much fun. I learned some Spanish and he learned Dutch. But usually you speak English to each other regularly, which is very good for your language development. I get to know different cultures here. For example, my team does not even have an American, but people from Japan, Australia, France, South America, Spain and Portugal. You are always on the same floor and do a lot together, so it is very comfortable. From that you will make a lot of friends. ‘
The Southeastern Community College football team is called the Blackhawks. As the team’s striker, Bart says proudly; ‘The situation here is much higher than where I come from. You come here with all cultures and many boys played football at the highest level in their country. I played football in Ouderkerk in the 3rd division, so I was far from the highest level in the Netherlands.
‘There is an absolute difference in football training between the Netherlands and the United States,’ says Bart. In the Netherlands it is very tactical and there are many more ideas behind it. And here the focus is more on the body. So I really had to get fit. I started doing a whole show with my dad (physiotherapist Karel Mans) and it made me very fit. ‘
I have fitness every Monday, which is a kind of intense warming. Then we start with our daily football practice. And we play 3 games a week. Our coach is very strict, so if you are not focused, you should run the whole field within 1 minute, ”says Bart. If you haven’t done anything in a while, you need to do extra sprints with your whole team. ‘
Hard work paid off because Bart became a national champion with his Blackhawks. He speaks enthusiastically about the road to it: ‘We first played in our home state of Iowa and won everything, and then in the playoffs. Then the ‘regions’ started and you play against the states around it; Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota. We competed against the winner, and it was a very exciting pot. We won this regional final 2-1 in the last 30 seconds. Then we were allowed to go to the ‘nationalists’, which is the biggest in the United States. You are competing against the winners of the 12 best states. We played against Mississippi and North Carolina. In the semifinals against Arizona. Eventually we had to come to the final and face Maryland. We were 1-0 behind, and then I changed it to 1-1. Then it was 2-1 and we were trailing again. In the last 3 minutes I scored 2-2. Then came extra time, my Brazilian team player scored a good goal and we became national champions. ‘Bart speaks of the reception in Burlington, Iowa with a smile:‘ We were with a police and fire brigade. Everyone waved and yelled at us. We heard loud music when we came to our school. There was a press conference, where our coach and the president of the Southeastern Community College spoke highly of us to various journalists. ‘
The highest scorer
Bart has been voted the highest scorer in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) competition and named Player of the Year. Of the 100 junior colleges in the country, I am number one in terms of goals and grants combined. I do not have a good season in the Netherlands as I do in the United States now, ”he says proudly. “When you focus fully on your game, you really see that it will definitely pay off.”
Once in the Netherlands Bart will definitely want to play football at a high level. Eredivisie or Section 2 may not be realistic. But I would definitely like to try the 3rd section or the main section. Yet he did not reject a career in the United States. “My coach said I could play in the United States after a good season as a good footballer. I think it’s a lot of fun to listen to because what is not realistic in the Netherlands is possible there. ‘
Now that Bart has finished his first semester, he has decided to pursue another junior college. “I’m going to California now because I want to get the most out of my American adventure,” he says with ambition. This junior college is located in Santa Barbara and is only 5 minutes from the beach. You can enjoy surfing, golf, tennis and everything within walking distance. I love the big cities in the area too! And good weather is a bonus. ‘
‘One of my best friends goes that route, so I think it’s very good. A classmate from Southeastern Community College is coming with me, so it will be a lot of fun. Bart is looking forward to his new adventure on the west coast of America. And we will continue to follow his profession.
“Coffee fanatic. Friendly zombie aficionado. Devoted pop culture practitioner. Evil travel advocate. Typical organizer.”