European Youth academy , the forges of talent: VILLARREAL
From relegation to the Segunda Division in 2012 to the historic victory of the Europa League, all in a decade, all thanks to an awareness. After relegation, Villareal realized that they could not compete with historic clubs without having a forward-looking project. You had to plan without having a multimillion budget. Owned stadiums, cutting-edge sports centers and regular and substantial investments in the youth sector: in today's football this seems to be the perfect recipe for making a club thriving, solid and, perhaps, winning. A city of less than 50,000 inhabitants, in the Valencian community, on the other hand, could not have any other way. It was impossible to have financial resources for important acquisitions and it was difficult to steal talents from nearby Valencia and Barcelona: it was necessary to build them at home.
We started to program with a defined working methodology, we focused a lot on the training of the technicians, creating an identity of play and common growth. Then came the birth of the projects for the construction of the new "Ciudad Deportiva" - which covers about 70,000 square meters - has five regulation football fields (two of which can be converted into four 7-a-side football fields) plus one of eight-a-side football, a gym and a room dedicated to physiotherapy. the structure can accommodate up to 100 children who, combined with those who reside at the 'Miralcamp' (now the 'stadium' of Villarreal B and the 'home' of CD Roda, Villarreal's satellite club) means that the number of young monitored by the 'Yellow Submarine' approach 1,000.
Incredible figure if you think of the small catchment area, to better understand the most famous forge of talent, La Masia in Barcelona, can accommodate up to 400 athletes. The structure is completed by a video room, meeting rooms, study rooms, TV and entertainment rooms. Another building located in front of the first team field is used for the general management of the club. But not only that, through the new naming rights strategy, the aim was to obtain the necessary funds to modernize the old Madrigal stadium, transforming it into a small favor able to bring new revenue to society. In 2015, however, an important turn came: the company sold the naming rights, i.e. the rights to demonize the building, to a consortium of companies operating in the ceramic sector, the main resource of the entire province of Vila- Real. This type of partnership simultaneously has a specific identity rooted in the territory, a greater and constant income from both direct (naming rights) and indirect advertising with different activities and uses. This project is not yet finished and still has room for improvement and investment. At a methodological level, the aim was to create an overall vision, an identity and fruit growth of a mix of technology and tradition. Growth and not the result are the objectives, through well-defined, well-structured and constantly monitored processes. Different fields can be used to record the training sessions of the teams with special cameras and present them to the players to analyze their contents. The players are left free to decide and make mistakes so as to be able to develop, over time, a correct reading of the situations and allow them to give free rein to creativity. the analysis of the videos allows you to review the work done and the performance of the students, this allows them to observe and understand what they do. The video is a practical feedback and offers the student the opportunity to associate a concept with a field experience lived directly in "first person" so as to make it settle on a mnemonic level. Scouting is also essential. Being able to intercept very young talents to be able to grow is an undertaking that requires a capillary and not simple activity. You can't aim for guys already under the lens of the big clubs but you have to aim for rough stones that you can refine.
Thanks to programming and planning, this small club managed to restart in the best possible way to become one of the 'big' in Spanish football.