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Watch: Juventus aim to create ‘thinking players’ through Malta academy

Head coach Matteo Barresi (left) and vice-head Alessio Capraro. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Following a successful five-day training camp held by the Juventus Academy back in 2020, the newly-introduced Juventus Academy Malta is set to open its doors to young football players as from September. Kurt Aquilina spoke to coaches MATTEO BARRESI and ALESSIO CAPRARO about their aims for the project…

The Juventus Academy is currently present in over 50 countries but will be the first international club setting up shop in Malta. Asked about what inspired the Italian giants to add Malta to their list, vice-head Alessio Capraro said that they had been presented with a good opportunity to come here and, the fact that there are no other clubs doing this already was helpful.

“It was an amazing opportunity for building the kids during the camp last September and will be as well during this year in the academy,” Capraro said.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids because they will learn the Juventus methodology, and also because of the atmosphere within the academy.”

Both coaches were on a site visit throughout June to familiarize themselves with Malta before moving here in August to be fully present for the academy.

Head coach Matteo Barresi (left) and vice-head Alessio Capraro. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Head coach Matteo Barresi believes the main focus for the project is to teach the young players the methodology of Juventus from Turin.

“This is important for the children because it gives them the possibility to try and learn an international methodology – the focus is to try and help development and try to raise the level,” Barresi explained.

In order to do this, Capraro said that the idea is to start with the basics to understand the level of the players and raise this step by step, adding that it would be important to carry out an evaluation of ability and after that, they would be able to decide what training is best.

One exciting aspect in all this is the Juventus world cup – an international tournament which brings together the different academies.

“The Juventus world cup is the most important part for Juventus – it is a big opportunity for the guys because we play with other countries. It is also an important moment for the academy to share information and experiences,” Barresi said.

However, what happens on the pitch is only one part of the goal for the two Italian coaches.

“For Juventus, the focus is not only the pitch,” Capraro said, “On the pitch and off, the technical part and the mental because we don’t only create the training session but we work on improving the mentality of the kids during training and the games.

“Inside the pitch, we have a programme to raise the level, physical training etc. But outside the pitch is most important because it’s not easy. The work is really hard because we have to understand our relationship with the kids, the parents. When the kids understand the position of the coach, we then have a thinking player.”

Methodology

The academy, open to players from six to 16 years old, is said to be adapting the Juventus methodology to reflect the local realities and focus on weaknesses of the players making the process tailored and personalized. In spite of this, it aims to build up the person more than just the player.

“The focus is not only to create a player for a professional team but creating a player step by step so that by 14-15 years old, we can see if the player has the possibility to turn professional. The mentality creates the personality of the player,” Capraro said.

Asked about whether the project will be used for scouting, both coaches emphasised that while talent brings about possibility for them to look a player, the academy will be purely educational.

“The academy is not a project for scouting, but it is a project for work with the methodology of Juventus in Malta. But when the talent is present, sometimes it’s possible that the academy speaks with Juventus to look at some guys,” Barresi admitted.

Juventus has produced a good number of professional players from within their youth system but the number of these players making the side’s first team is still very low. Asked about how difficult it is for an academy player to make it big, Capraro admitted it’s very hard.

“The reason for this is that a lot of things are needed from a player,” Capraro said.

“Last year, one couldn’t see a lot of players from the academy in the first team. In five years’ time you could have a lot, and then maybe one or two the next year. Work in the academy is really hard because you start from zero but eventually it gets easier.

“For players, there is also the parents, school, the coach – a lot of factors for a player. For us as coaches, our work does not change a lot – what changes is how we adapt the methodology to the mentality of the people.”

Applications for the Juventus Academy Malta opened on Monday and can be accessed here.

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