Sevilla FC Academy
Recently I read a paper entitled, "Athlete and Coach Development in the Sevilla Club de Fútbol Youth Academy: A Values-Based Proposition" by Antonio Solana-Sánchez, Sergio Lara-Bercial, and David Solana-Sánchez, and it was extremely enlightening (click the paper title for direct link to full paper).
Early in the article, the authors state that Sevilla FC was founded in 1905 and has experienced great success as of late having won the Europa League in 2006, 2007, 2014, and 2016. The club manages a budget of around 50 million euros in relation to player salaries. From the academy perspective, the club is comprised of Under 8s to Sevilla Atletico (B Team), which consists of 24 teams, over 400 players, and more than 100 coaches (majority of coaches being part time).
The main reason I found the paper enlightening was due to the clarity and simplistic nature of the questions that the key decision makers at the club began to ask when developing the club's academy.
The primary questions were:
1) What kind of players do we want to produce?
2) Which pedagogical approach would give us the greatest chance to achieve our goal?
3) Which methodological coaching principles are suitable to implement this pedagogy and realize our ultimate goal?
4) What kind of coaches are the most appropriate to fulfill this role?
By using those questions as the starting point, the club was able to appropriately design a methodology that was in accordance with the history and values of the club, on and off the field.
Of all the primary questions, I found the fourth one to be the most interesting due to its complexity. The club decided to train the local coaches because they 'carry the club in their heart'. In order to appropriately develop the coaches to have the necessary knowledge and expertise (based on their 3 categories of coach competence), the club designed an in-house 'Continuous Coach Development Program', which focused on:
Raising awareness about the common goals of the club.
Supporting coaches to develop a pedagogical approach (Teaching Games For Understanding) that builds players' knowledge and ownership of their own training program.
Providing coaches with clear and concrete information in the early stages of their development.
Using a positive approach to reinforce/reassure the coaches who are involved in the methodological transformation.
In the end, the academy analyzed their success based on their ability to develop expert players who are able to play for the first team. According to the article, in the last 10 years, more than 40 players have gone on to make their debut with the first team. Additionally, between 2012 and 2015, Sevilla FC has generated 50 million euros from the sale of home grown players.
This is one of the most complete papers I have come across that details the development process of an elite youth academy. I highly recommend taking the time to read it and pass it along to others in the soccer community.