The LaLiga soccer camps held in Cape Town recently provided high-level coaching to some of the city’s promising young players
160 aspirant young Cape Town girls and boys from Under 10 to Under 18 had the opportunity to receive expert coaching from some of LaLiga’s top coaches. The camp was the week of the 28 March to 1 April, followed by a weekend Coaches Camp for top amateur and professional coaches.
Two LaLiga Uefa Pro Licenced coaches were assisted by five top IBERCUP and South African Football Association coaches at the camps, which focused on the tactical, technical, physical, and psychological aspects needed to perform at the highest level in football.
GOAL had the opportunity to chat to both the LaLiga coaches and organizers.
“For us, it is a great opportunity to interact with young football fans, get to see them developing their football skills at a LaLiga level, and have fun while exercising. Football is a great way to have good habits for kids and also a way for these kids to make new friends, be exposed to different cultures, and be active. To be able to provide the platform for them to do all these things is very special and overall amazing,” Natalie Barlow, Marketing & Commercial Manager at LaLiga said.
We know there is a lot of football talent in South Africa and we are so looking forward to seeing a local player making it in our league. Since Tshepo Masilela when he was playing in Getafe, we haven’t sadly seen any player joining us, but by working in the country we are showcasing what is happening locally to our clubs and, hopefully at some point, that connection will happen.”
An important objective of the camps, with its special focus on developing youth football, is to give disadvantaged youth from all over South Africa – who would not ordinarily have access to the opportunity – the chance to be coached by top LaLiga and IBERCUP coaches.
“South Africa is a country that loves football. They are passionate about the game, have a great domestic league and is also the home of SuperSport, the broadcaster for SubSaharan Africa. We opened offices over six years ago and we are so happy to see how the following towards our teams and players has been improving every single season. We are not only seeing more fans from the main big three teams – Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid -, but also more and more people are looking more at teams as Sevilla, Valencia or Villarreal, which is great news for us.”
The sessions were led by LaLiga’s Uefa Pro-licenced coaches Saul Vazquez and Jose Angel García.
“We have had a super positive experience because the level was much higher than we expected. You can see the talent in the players we have had and the physical and technical level of the players are good,” said Vazquez, a former Deportivo coach.
Vazquez said the Mother City footballers had considerable natural talent and ability, but that their positional and tactical play and their decision-making needed improvement, which was a particular focus at the camps.
Garcia was extremely impressed with the positive attitude and emotional maturity from the players at the camps, and with the warm reception, the LaLiga and top Safa coaches received from the players.
“The kids have worked phenomenally well. The treatment and affection they have given us throughout the week have been excellent, which has made our work in training much easier. On a physical and technical level, we’ve had a very positive surprise, the level is very high,” said Garcia, who also added that the players’ tactical aspects needed improvement, which was noticeably better after the week-long training camp.
Vazquez said coming to South Africa to impart LaLiga’s training methodology and style was a “very big responsibility”.
“We come to represent a great brand, the football of a country, and the clubs, it is a great responsibility. It is obviously a luxury that we have in our work, and we try to enjoy it, from the preparation of the projects to their execution,” said Vazquez.
Garcia said while it was a privilege to share LaLiga’s methods with South Africa’s young footballers, what was crucial was imparting the knowledge they could apply in their own footballing environments, to improve both as young footballers and human beings.
“What we always want to show is how to apply that methodology to the real context in which we find ourselves in each project and that is a great responsibility. The experience is obviously very good, very positive, and very satisfying. We find talent in all the contexts in which we travel and work and here in South Africa we have seen it with the kids at the clinic. Where there is a lot of room for improvement, and where we at LaLiga try to share our point of view, is to create that platform so that talent can develop, for which the work and responsibility of the coaches are key. I believe that improving this structure, along with a developmental league, would be the most efficient way for the talent that exists in South Africa to continue to develop,” said Garcia.
The local coaches who participated in the camps, facilitated by Safa Cape Town director of coaching Boebie Solomons, were grateful for the chance to broaden their knowledge and learn from the Spanish coaches. They included Hanover Park coach Anwar Galant and his Hellenic FC counterpart, Alex Mulongo.
The LaLiga camps are organised in partnership with IberCup, which is ranked among the largest international youth football tournaments in the world.