How does a top football player and ATPI experience the Champions League final?
Elite sport at its best
For football fans, the Champions League final is the highlight of the year: the culmination of a full season of top-flight club football with only one team taking home the trophy. Former footballer Frank de Boer knows better than anyone how the final feels for a player, but how did he manage to stay the course, deal with the tension, and still enjoy the moment? Monique Koot, Senior Project Manager at ATPI, faces a different challenge when it comes to the final. For her, it’s the time when everything comes together, but how does she make sure that every client has an unforgettable experience?
It's the moment that’s burned into the retina of every sports enthusiast: those final few minutes just before kick-off. That’s what it’s all about. The total concentration on the players’ faces, the steel cans in the distance, the quick handshake, and finally, the whistle.
Frank de Boer is one of a select group of people who have experienced the countdown to kick-off on the pitch at the Champions League final.
“When you’re in the line-up, it’s your moment. Before you shake hands with the opponent, you’re completely in your own ‘zone’. Full concentration,” He explains. “When the whistle blows, it’s all about doing. Doing what you’ve trained so hard for and doing the thing that you’ve desperately wanted to make a reality from an early age. Play as well as possible, do your utmost, and enjoy yourself.”
Do what you do best and aim for the win. It’s no different for ATPI and Monique knows better than anyone what that anticipation feels like: “It’s in these moments that everything comes together: the best possible preparation, extensive planning, a thorough analysis of potential risks, and all our professionals ready on location. You feel the tension, but you know you’re ready.”
Even better in adversity
You can prepare for a match, but you can never plan the outcome. That’s exactly why elite sport is so magical. It’s a pressure cooker of emotions as you chase highlights and deal with adversity. But professional footballers aren’t fazed when things go wrong.
“A match has many different moments, including setbacks,” says Frank. “Everyone deals with this in their own way. For me, mistakes don’t affect my concentration. In fact, when I play a wrong ball at the beginning of the match, it only challenges me to play even better and focus even more on my game. Again, this varies from player to player but footballers at this level are professionals.
“In the face of adversity, you can fall back on your team, which gives you confidence. For example, we were once 0-2 behind Feyenoord but we knew as a team that we could bounce back. And we went on to win 4-2. The feeling you share with each other in that moment can give the team an extra push. Sometimes are easier than others, but the drive to keep fighting is always there.”
For Monique and her team, unexpected situations bring out the best in ATPI.
“Imagine we’re travelling to Paris with 1500 clients and guests and the train is delayed. That kicks off a series of actions: contact the bus company, arrange a later check-in at the hotels, reschedule activities, and what about lunch and dinner? The list is endless,” She says. “But that’s when we’re in our element. You use your original plans and the information you have at your disposal to create solutions. Sometimes that means improvising and coming up with unconventional ideas. Then, it’s all hands-on deck. This is what we do and it’s why we love this job so much.”
You are ready
You can rely on your knowledge, experience, and talent. This is also true for top athletes, even when the pressure is inhumanely high. As Frank explains: “What qualities do you need to play in a Champions League final? The answer is actually in the question. If you’ve reached the final then, as a footballer, you’ve already earned your place at the top.
“You can deal with the enormous pressure on your shoulders, the stress, and the setbacks, and still put in a great performance. Is something wrong? Keep your wits about you, stick to the strategy, and don’t be fooled. You can use all the knowledge that you’ve gained as a player and from all your coaches. You’re there because you’ve been showing that you belong in the final for years, and so has your team.”
Always a solution
This also applies to ATPI. “A Champions League final demands maximum effort from our entire team and that’s exactly what we can deliver. We have our own workplace on site, a place where we can adapt and change plans quickly, if necessary,” says Monique. “Uncertainties are part of our job, and we excel at solving complex situations. We already know that we’ll encounter challenges in Paris, for example, so we’re prepared for that.
“To ensure that everything runs smoothly, we take a large team to Paris as well as doing everything we can at ATPI in the Netherlands. That way, we know we have enough hands to address issues immediately, especially if things turn out to be different than we planned. ATPI is at its best in those times; it’s important that we provide a great service, look for solutions with a smile, and ensure that our clients have an unforgettable experience, no matter what. If we’re successful, then our Champions League final will end with a win too!”