2020: "Every disadvantage has its advantage"

Jan 11, 2021

Dear friends,

One year ago, we were living in Beijing, China. At the start of Chinese Spring festival (New Year) I came back home from a workshop in Hainan, a beautiful tropical island, when I heard rumors of a virus similar to SARS.

As the days went by, the news was spreading fast. When it reached Beijing, we were planning to celebrate Spring Festival with our Chinese friends until they cancelled it because of a new virus called “Corona”. For a Chinese family to cancel Spring festival, there must be a serious reason.

One week later I got messages from family and friends in The Netherlands asking me how bad the situation in China was. I had locked myself up in my apartment (during Spring festival, shops are closed anyways), so I couldn’t make a right estimation of the situation.

When I received a phone call from a student that was planning his internship with us, saying he cancelled his trip because he wasn’t allowed to travel to China, alarm bells started to ring. I contacted Ruben who urged me to come back to The Netherlands if I felt the situation wasn’t safe.

Without any hesitation, I packed my bags, called some friends to say goodbye and left my apartment to take the next flight back to The Netherlands. Not knowing that a few months later, COVID-19 had spread throughout the whole world and the outbreak was officially called a pandemic.

This, of course, had a huge impact on our organization and on the way we were spreading our message in the Montessori community worldwide. We had to…

  • Scale down our business in China and the rest of Asia.
  • Scale down our team, unfortunately letting some wonderful people go.
  • Cancel our events, workshops and presentations.
  • Rethink our way of providing training and spreading our message.

 

You have two choices. Either you become a victim, or you create a better situation. That made me think of my favorite quote of the great Johan Cruyff:

 

“Every disadvantage has its advantage

 

Seeing the positive in every situation. Accept and anticipate, turning misfortune into opportunity. And that is what we did. Unfortunately, Jip was still stuck in Australia, where he still helped the local schools as best as he could. We - being able to work closely together - developed an online learning platform for Montessori teachers, parents and schools interested in integrating sports into their Montessori environment.

 

An overview of the accomplishments we have made in 2020:

  • Setting up an online learning platform at www.montessori-sports.com  
  • In cooperation with AMI, and in particular with AMI trainer Heidi Phillipart, we launched our first online course “Montessori Sports Fundamentals” (AMI certified) that people can do at their own pace and in their own time.
  • The course was fully translated into Spanish.
  • Eder Cuevas, director of Montessori México, joined our team as a consultant.
  • 380 teachers and parents (Montessori and non Montessori) enrolled in our course so far.
  • The students are coming from 51 different countries.
  • Overall, the students graded our course with an 8.3 out of 10.
  • We grew our follower-base to more than 5,000 on five different channels (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and WeChat).
  • Established a partnership with Nienhuis Montessori to develop Montessori Sports materials.

 

The main plans for 2021:

  • Launching our online membership in which we offer continuous support to our course graduates in order for them to help children with sports activities.
  • Setting up the Montessori Sports Fund in which we use the power of sports to bring Montessori education to children in need.
  • Developing and launching a Montessori Sports 3-6 course.
  • Launching a Chinese and Dutch version of our course.
  • Further the development of the Montessori Sports materials.

 

Hopefully, travel restrictions will be lifted, so we can travel and hold workshops to meet the different course participants face-to-face.

During our second year we had to jump over several obstacles, just like a child learns to do. This experience paved the way for us to keep on developing in the different areas of life.

Therefore, on behalf of the Montessori Sports team, I want to thank all the people that have supported us in 2020 and we hope that you keep on supporting us as we continue our journey to help children to respond to their needs and fulfill their full potential by using the power of sports.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Patrick Oudejans

Co-founder

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