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Meet the Team: Nikita de Haan



Her Story

Nikita was born on April 3rd, 1996, and grew up in a town close to Utrecht, The Netherlands. She has always had a big passion for football and the dream to work in sports. Now, she is one of the owners of Valenze.


Nikita grew up as a boyish girl, enjoying the outdoors, climbing trees, and playing football. It wasn't very common for girls to play or even like football back then. She started playing with boys and later decided to join the girls' team. "When I played with the boys, I got teased a lot. For me, this was a reason to change clubs and, later on, even teams. I think this is one of the few things I would do differently in life. I really believe I could have been a better player if I had continued playing with the boys."


When she was younger, she had a wide range of interests: musical, horseback riding, drawing, and riding a unicycle. Her parents loved cycling and took her and her two younger brothers on cycling vacations. One vacation, they biked from their hometown in The Netherlands to Paris, and a few years later from Paris to Barcelona. She was always looking for fun opportunities to develop herself, such as joining the sports council, being a mentor to first-year students, learning Spanish, coaching at her local football club, and participating in the high school play.


She moved out of her parents' home at the age of 19 to live closer to her university in Amsterdam. She liked living in the city but wanted something more authentic. After graduating, she moved to Utrecht. This was a better fit, but she was very limited in enjoying it due to COVID and its regulations. In the summer of 2021, she moved to Barcelona, where she is now enjoying the Spanish sun and culture. She spends her free time playing football, going on hikes, and enjoys spending time with family and friends.



Professional career

In high school, she already knew she wanted to work in sports and decided to start a bachelor's degree in Sports Management & Business. Here, she followed the honors program called 'Leadership and Organization' and obtained her UEFA C coaching license.

An internship at the Dutch Football Federation was her first experience working in football. The internship turned into a freelance job as a match manager at international youth tournaments. Due to COVID-19, most youth games were canceled, leaving Nikita without games to organize. She then started a new job in online marketing, where she worked for two years.

Being part of international football events has always been something she really enjoyed. This was a reason to volunteer at different tournaments like the Women's EURO in 2017, EURO 2020, and being a TLO at multiple international youth tournaments. After the Women's EURO, Nikita wanted to be more involved in the women's game. She joined the women's sports council at her local football club, with the objective to improve and develop its women's football within the club.

Although she was in a very comfortable place back in The Netherlands, there was always the dream to move to Spain, learn the language, and find a job in football. So when she was introduced to the master's program in Football Business, it felt like the perfect step to take. She decided to take the risk and moved to Barcelona, where she finished the master and eventually joined Ireneo in his business. Now she is working for Valenze and CeleBreak, being involved in football on a daily basis.


Personal Branding

Her story, values, and personality all come together in the way she acts and communicates with her friends, family, and the rest of her audience. Examples in which she communicates with her audience are social media channels like Instagram and LinkedIn, her podcast, and through networking events.

Social Media

On Instagram, Nikita shares photos and news about her work at Valenze and CeleBreak - but also about things she likes to do in her spare time, such as going on hikes, playing football, and other activities. She combines posts and stories to showcase her expertise, knowledge, and professional growth along with personal interests and values. She highlights her professional career by sharing the podcast episodes she records with Ireneo, the blogs she writes, and by sharing pictures and videos of her playing football.


LinkedIn is more focused on her professional story. She shares her experiences, feelings, and ideas about different topics in her field of work: personal branding and women's football. It is mostly about her involvement in women's football, her view on what's happening in the women's game, how personal branding can help athletes, and the new achievements of Valenze.

Podcast

Nikita and Ireneo's podcast 'Behind the Name' is another way to communicate with their audience. Through this, they offer female football players a platform to share their stories. It is a way to empower the athletes and themselves at the same time. It reflects her value of empowerment, her interest in women's football, and her expertise in athlete branding.


Networking

When she gets the chance, Nikita likes to network with other professionals in the football business. For her, it is a way to discuss shared interests and gain new insights about the industry she works in. It helps her in personal development and provides opportunities to connect with people who could help her grow.





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