Kees Kwakman - Fact File

Wits’ Kwakman Adapting To Life In The PSL

Bidvest Wits signed Dutch defender Kees Kwakman during the pre-season. He reveals to us why he decided to come to South Africa.

Personal Information
Full Names: Cornelius Kees Kwakman
Date of birth: 10 June 1998
Place of birth: Pumerend in Holland
Position: Central defender
Jersey no: 2
Club: Bidvest Wits
Previous Clubs: 
RKAV Volendam
FC Volendam
RBC Roosendaal
NAC Breda
Groningen FC
NAC Breda
FC Augsburg
2010/11 Bundesliga 2nd Division runner-up with FC Augsburg

Kees, how have you been finding things in the PSL so far?
I think it has been a little bit up and down. After starting well as a team, we had disappointing outings against Orlando Pirates in the MTN8 and SuperSport United in the Telkom Knockout where we could have done better.

Why would a top Dutch defender even think of coming to the PSL?
I wanted a change of environment. I just wanted to see new things in football and I think the PSL is providing that for me. It’s good to see that I am enjoying my time here so far.

Surely you were on a bigger package in Holland compared to what you are now.
You are talking about money? Let’s not compare money because the two leagues are different. I don’t know how much big teams pay here, but in Holland the top teams have good money. I didn’t join Wits for money, rather for a change of experience and environment.

Did you feel like you could be a star in the PSL?
First I have to play regularly and be a team player. It’s not about an individual in football. But if I play well and I help my team do well, then maybe I can be a star just like Alje Schut.

What's your impression of the PSL?
It’s different of course, as I am not used to it, but overall it’s good. I watched some games before playing and it’s different. The tempo is high and it’s definitely more physical. The players are better so far.

How did your move from Holland to South Africa all happen?
I came here during the first week of pre-season to see how the club was, how the country was and how Jo'burg was, to see everything. I had a good feeling about it all. I trained with the team, they made an offer and I signed the contract one week later. I went back to Holland and then came back. That’s how it all happened.

Your countryman Alje Schut is at Mamelodi Sundowns. Why did you choose Wits?
I think the biggest part was from Glen Salmon, who also played in Holland. My agent represented Glen when he played in Holland and he asked my agent if he knew any central defenders, as Wits needed one. The year before last year, we were already in contact with Wits, but the coach took a striker because he needed a striker more urgently. We got in touch again and Glen asked me to come for a week to see how things are done. So Glen had the greatest influence in me being here today.

So having Glen at Wits and Schut in the country helped you to settle in?
Yes, Glen has been there from the beginning, but I have to say the other people from the office also helped me very well. They did everything for me to settle in here. My family is here and they did everything. But it’s also nice to have a Dutch man here, if I need something, I call Alje. We have already eaten out a couple of times. The other guys from the team like Dillon Sheppard also join in to do things together. That’s good to do when you are in the country, so that you don’t feel lonely.

How does PSL football compare to Dutch football?
Dutch football is more tactical. Here it’s non-stop running for the whole of 90 minutes. Dutch football is easily played as we build the play patiently from the back. That’s how we learned from when we were young. Here it’s more physical, more direct. For defenders, at times, it’s difficult but it’s good for me to learn. When you have played 15 or 16 years of football, it’s good to play in another country and learn from the players and the coaches. For me it’s good to have another test of football.

Kees, thank you very much for your time.
Thank you.