Bridging the Gap with Northern Europe
That nervous look on their faces. Their desire to show off their skills. The will to prove how much they love this game. Real Madrid is coming to town… and one can see that these little ones have been waiting for it for months.
“I love this!” This thought always crosses my mind when I look at them, every single time me and the coaches arrive to the complex, and meet the kids that will train with us. It is a powerful reminder of what the beautiful game can create.
My name is Joel Santos, I´m part of the generation adidas international team, and thanks to our partnership with the Realmadrid Foundation, we are able to create truly unique experiences for youth players worlwide.
Being a life long fan of the club myself, it is special to see the feelings that Real Madrid can awake.
The Realmadrid Foundation Clinic program aims to motivate and develop the skills of young soccer players, through the “Real way”. The team of coaches that are involved in it, have experience with Real Madrid Academy youth teams; and they share the same methodology that these players breathe at the famed Real Madrid Sports city in Spain.
This time the destiny was Northern Europe: Finland and Estonia. The 5 men team was formed by coaches Luis, Javi, Alex and Jose Manuel; and I had the privilege to complete the squad.
Our first stop was Helsinki, the capital city of Finland. The clinic was held in a fantastic stadium that is part of the facilities used in the Helsinki cup, one of the biggest Youth Tournaments in Europe, that has been going on since 1976. Magnificent set up!
Saying Finland instantly makes you think about cold weather, but as it can be seen in the picture, we were lucky enough to enjoy great temperatures. This opening clinic was just 1 day, and a very rewarding first step of the journey.
After Helsinki, it was time to visit Tampere, and enjoy some time with the “Ilves”, and their wonderful people. As you can see, the sun was again part of our team too.
The 5 days we spent in this city were special. We felt very welcomed by players, local coaches and parents. Finnish people are like an Iceberg. They seem cold and a bit sharp at first sight, but when confidence is built, you can experience that there´s much more that what you can see in the surface. They might have a cold outside, but their heart is warm.
Our first Realmadrid Foundation clinic ever was held in Tampere in 2014, so being here again felt a little bit like home. The kids were very excited to add another chapter to last year´s experience, and they gave it their all.
Of course, not everything is work. These trips also give us the chance of creating sweet memories. Check out one of them. A friendly game vs. Tamperen Ilves female team. They were tough to beat! But we did!
The Realmadrid Foundation is the social arm of Real Madrid CF. When we travel abroad representing both brands, we must also keep in mind that we are ambassadors of their values. Short periods of a couple of days can certainly leave an impact on these kids lifes, and besides trying to refine their football skills, all of us aim to share the importance of Realmadrid Foundation core values such as humility, effort, teamwork, respect, leadership and solidarity.
Next step took us to another city, Tallinn, and also to another country, beautiful Estonia. It was now time to work with FC Flora, one of the top clubs. Although the sun did not come with us this time, we had some pleasant surprises here as well. A piece of our dear España! made us feel very welcomed!
Football in Estonia is still very young. As an example, the main competition “Master League” was founded in 1992, having only 10 teams competing currently. One of them, and probably the most important one is FC Flora; the club that was our home for 4 days.
Once again, players were fueled with passion, and ready to get the most out of this experience. This clinic was the biggest one in numbers, and we worked with a total of 320 Estonian kids.
After some rainy days in Estonia, that did not stop the team from going all in, it was time now to return to Finland for the last step of the journey: Seinajoki´s last clinic. Thank you FC Flora and Tallinn for such a wonderful time!
The last step of the journey took us to the beautiful sunny landscape of the city of Seinajoki, to work very close to one of the Finnish Premier League clubs: SJK.
From this clinic, I would like to highlight the role of the assistant coaches. In my opinion, this role is absolutely key for the success of this program. Having committed assistant coaches with a positive mindset that are willing to work hard, forming a team with Realmadrid Foundation coaches, has a tremendous positive impact in the quality of the training sessions.
Football has a universal language, but sometimes there are small concepts that might be difficult to communicate exactly in cases where the English level of the younger kids is not perfect. Situations like this one are a perfect example of the added value that a committed assistant coach represents. SJK´s coaches consistently carried their attitude above and beyond, demonstrating also a huge degree of humility as they were part of the club´s first team, and worked as if they were teenagers. Admirable.
Attitude is precisely what I would like to highlight from the amazing coaching team formed by Javi, Alex, Jose Manuel and Luis. Work can be done in many ways, but when it is done with a humble spirit and with kindness, specially on the field, it translates into quality for the kids. Look at those smiles… thank you coaches!
I would also like to thank all the Finnish and Estonian players for their hard work and their will to learn, all the assistant coaches for their support in making our lives easier, and of course the parents that decided to provide their kids with the opportunity of experiencing Real Madrid training methodology. A special thank you to our partners Saarikoski Travels; and their CEO Jarkko Paloniemi. Thanks Jarkko! Without your daily hard work the months before the events, it would not be posible to create so many smiles and great feelings for these kids. See you all in summer 2016!