“I don’t notice that this is a problem neighborhood,” says street coach Marouane (18)

Marouane El Amrani (18) is a street coach in the Kalsdonk district of Roosendaal. In addition to his school work at 6 pre-university level, he helps peers in the neighborhood four to five days a week. “I love people and positivity. The label on this neighborhood is not justified. People walk around with a lot of prejudices about us. But look beyond our exterior. You don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Immediately after class he comes to the Kalsdonk community center on his scooter to tell us about his mission in the neighborhood. “I am a street coach with passion and love. I was born and raised here in Kalsdonk and I want to commit myself with heart and soul to the quality of life for everyone in this neighborhood.”

“Like ‘oh, you’re from Kalsdonk'”

Marouane also read the bold headlines in March about a shooting on Philipslaan. “The neighborhood was very shocked by this. The media pretended that it was young people, but that is not the case. They were older.”

“If you grew up in Kalsdonk, you have to make an extra effort.”

Yet the shooting has a strong negative impact on the immigrant youth in Kalsdonk, says Marouane. “People sometimes react when they hear that you are from this neighborhood. Like: ‘Oh, you are from Kalsdonk’. But the young people here in the neighborhood really do their best. At school and at work.”

“If you grew up in Kalsdonk, you have to make an extra effort to prove that you are okay. And that means we don’t actually get the same opportunities as young people from other neighborhoods, such as Tolberg or de Kroeven.”

According to the young street coach, solidarity in Kalsdonk is high. “The image that we are a deprived neighborhood mainly comes from outside. I also talk to other people here in the neighborhood about it. We do not notice at all that we are a deprived neighborhood. It is here that we know ourselves. Everyone greets each other. Here at the community center you will always find someone to have a chat with.

And that community center plays an important role. “The street coaches are mainly there to ensure that young people do not get bored. By organizing activities, such as on Tuesday evening when we watched Champions League matches here in the community center with a lot of young guests. That was fun.”

But it goes further than watching football. “We recently held an indoor football match. The boys are busy with school and a job, but when they get together for that one hour a week, you see the smiling faces and their creativity. And that gives me the satisfaction of doing this work. “

“Look, another problem in Kalsdonk!”

Yet Marouane’s future lies beyond work as a street coach. “I want to go to university. Tax law. I’m still unsure whether I will study that in Rotterdam or Tilburg.” Very different from youth work. But for now he mainly wants to voice a counterpoint to the negative reports about the neighborhood in the media. Such as the fire bomb that was thrown into a house last Sunday.

“That fire bomb once again confirms to the outside world that this is a slum. Just as if they are waiting for something to happen again that confirms the image of this neighborhood. Look, another problem in Kalsdonk! This while there are so many good things here events that connect the neighborhood.”


Shootings, fireworks nuisance and poverty: this is the pain of Kalsdonk