International-level football training a plane-trip away
AS ONE OF THE MOST successful and well-recognised football teams in the history of football, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, founded in 1902, continues to be the most valuable sports club in the world.
According to Forbes magazine, Real Madrid CF tops Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and the New York Yankees with an increment of value worth USD3.44 billion.
As of May 24th this year, among the club’s many accomplishments and honours is that it won 32 La Liga and a record 10 European Cup/UEFA Champions League trophies.
Staying true to Real Madrid’s values – ‘we never give up, team is always first and respect’ – the Real Madrid Foundation Technical Academy (Technical Academy) in Raffles Institute, Singapore provides football lovers in the region the chance and opportunity to experience and learn from top quality football training by Spanish RealMadrid Foundation.
The salient point about the foundation’s base in Singapore is that it closely follows the philosophy and values of Real Madrid C.F as well as the same training and methodologies of those at their training base in Spain.
In terms of the training approach, the programme focuses on Real Madrid’s value and philosophy of teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, and self-confidence.
“On one thing, it is what we represent. We represent one of the best clubs in the history of football. And also in our culture, we always want to improve. We always want our players to improve,” said Sergio Cervantes Martinez, Managing Director Singapore project when asked what makes the training programme unique from others.
From an educational aspect, Sergio said that football was an amazing tool to helps families and parents to motivate and educate the younger generation with good values from the core of the club and programme. Among those values they focus on are leadership, self-control, effort, teamwork, respect and tolerance.
“And so with all this kind of message and methodology inside and outside the field I think this is something different that we are developing in the players,” he added.
The Technical Academy runs the training programme five days a week, every week throughout the year.
The training programme includes both indoor and outdoor training, with four types of sessions. The first type is training outdoors, while the tactical session is held in the hall, along with educational activities where the players will mix around with their teammates to develop the spirit of teamwork and exercise based on the values they learn. This is all followed with some relaxing activities, like the swimming pool session where they get to relax their muscles from the strain of the field.
According to Sergio, the training programme is open to everyone and sometimes depends on the organisations that they working with.
“In the case of the Malaysian players for the Real Madrid Campus Experience programme, they have been selected by the YR1M foundation and we just run the programme,” he said.
There are two programmes offered by the RealMadrid Foundation, one which is completely open for everyone from the age of 7 to 17 years old as it is open for beginners and the other, a high-level technical campus for those who are playing at an amateur level and pursuing football as a career which requires prospective trainees to tryout to enter.
For the training programme in Singapore, the coaches work with kids ranging from ages 6 or 7 to 17 with the aim of bringing out their talent, grooming them as well as develop their spirit of teamwork.
Instead of going to Real Madrid for professional training, the training programme also provides football enthusiasts with more serious and professional training with RealMadrid Foundation coaches.
Three Spanish RealMadrid Foundation coaches are responsible for training the players aided by local Singaporean assistant coaches in the foundation’s programmes.
While providing basic skills and techniques is the main purpose of the programme, at the same time it also motivates, drives and energizes the players in their passion in football so that they can learn much more.
Once the players are taught the basic skills, their understanding of the game is further refined upon through technical and tactical lessons which also focus on character development.
“So, they have the value of teamwork, leadership, respect of others which is more or less the way we want to develop. Players not only as ‘players’ but also from a human point of view,” said Sergio.
Since they opened their Asian base in Singapore in 2013, the training programme has gained popularity in Singapore and is in huge demand. Applicants have to be pushed in the waiting list just to be in programme. According to Sergio, they try to accommodate as many players as possible and there are no limitations.
When asked how good does one has to be to join the programme, he said the only criteria they were looking for in players was their passion for football and their desire to be trained.
“For us, it not the matter of being good, it’s the matter of people that are willing to play football,” said Sergio.
Perhaps some may wonder whether the RealMadrid Foundation had ever recruited anyone from the programme.
“If they are really good,” answered Sergio. “The thing is, it is very difficult. We do not want to play with this kind of promise because we know how difficult it is to play for the first team.”
Located in Ciudad Real Madrid or Real Madrid City, the RealMadrid FC youth academy, called the La Fabrica serves as the training ground for all teams and associated with the club. But only a handful of the players from the youth academy get to play for the first team while the rest plays for the first division, La Liga and other international leagues. Perhaps the most prominent example of La Fabrica alumni is Spanish footballer Raúl González Blanco.
In 2013, however, it was a dream come true for 9-year-old Japanese boy, Takuhiro Nakai, nicknamed ‘Pipi’, when Real Madrid signed him on for their youth programme because of his astounding football skills.
Looking forward to this opportunity in the foundation, Sergio added that he hopes to repeat this kind of experience in Singapore and Malaysia.
According to Sergio, the Technical Academy is working with the YR1M Foundation to set up a training programme in Malaysia possibly later on this year in November.
As part of the commitment to foster the development of football among the youths, YR1M and iM Sarawak has collaborated with the RealMadrid Foundation to provide opportunities to the young, raw talent of football players from across Malaysia to participate in the Campus Experience.