Johan Cruijff ArenA, the venue for the second module of the ECA Academy Management Programme

January 25, 2024

Johan Cruijff ArenA, the venue for the second module of the ECA Academy Management Programme

The ECA and Johan Cruyff Institute bring together representatives from 27 European club academies at the iconic Ajax FC stadium for the first face-to-face meeting of the ECA Academy Management Programme (AMP), focused on sharing management experiences, participating in discussions with experts on talent development in European football and practical sessions on positional play inspired by Johan Cruyff

Last week, directors and managers from 27 European club football academies took part in the second module of the ECA Academy Management Programme, a nine-month blended executive training programme designed to meet the needs and objectives of this professional sector in the development of European football talent.

As a product of the ECA Youth Football Strategy and ECA Youth Working Group, and a brand-new initiative from ECA Campus, the programme is being delivered in collaboration with Johan Cruyff Institute and aims to elevate and inspire the next generation of directors and those in management positions within European football club academies, helping them and their academies to realise their full potential.

After a first online module, for the second part of the programme all participants were invited to the Johan Cruijff ArenA, the iconic stadium of Ajax FC, for a first face-to-face meeting, with a three-day programme carefully organised to provide a thorough understanding of talent development and the most effective strategies to improve football academies. From engaging expert sessions to academy observation and analysis sessions, the module offered an interactive learning experience under the guidance of renowned guest speakers and mentors deeply committed to shaping the future of European football.

“I’m taking back ideas to my club, different opinions and perspectives to share with other colleagues. We have been shown the way forward” – Isaac Arques Soriano (Riga FC )

The first day consisted of a tour of the Johan Cruijff ArenA and a series of expert-led sessions: a masterclass on ‘creating a sports strategy’ by Keld Boordingaard (Bayer Leverkusen), a presentation by Paul van Zwam (Meglio!) and an interesting talk by Roy Lagendijk and Kasper van Vliet, staff members of the Sportcomplex De Toekomst (Ajax Coaching Academy) who gave a first-hand insight into the renowned development ecosystem of the Dutch club.

Johan Cruijff ArenA, the venue for the second module of the ECA Academy Management Programme

The second module of the programme combined theoretical sessions with practical activities led by Albert Capellas (Cruyff Football) on positional play inspired by Johan Cruyff.

The second day offered participants a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical sessions led by Albert Capellas and Juan Torrijo, general manager and performance coach of Cruyff Football, respectively, both experts in positional play inspired by Johan Cruyff’s methodology. A captivating training session on the Sportcomplex De Toekomst, highlighted the practical aspects of positional play, fostering a deeper understanding and sparking key discussions among the participants.

The final day was marked by lively debates on the topic of ‘Street Football vs Academic Football’, which fostered collaboration among participants and included the virtual participation of Jordi Cruyff, who joined online to offer some interesting anecdotes and greet those registered for the programme.

“It was really valuable to connect with peers and share practices. It shows you the importance of culture, environment, communication and attention to small details” – Steven Hammel (Celtic FC)

Throughout the module, participants were encouraged to share their experiences and points of view, as well as to reflect on the knowledge acquired, and critically analyse how to apply what they had learned to their own situation.

Isaac Arques Soriano (Riga FC Academy Sport Director) said: “It was a pleasure to be with the group, sharing time with colleagues, exchanging knowledge and experience, and sharing common problems to seek common solutions. I’m taking back ideas to my club, different opinions and perspectives to share with other colleagues. We have been shown the way forward.”

Steven Hammel (Celtic FC Director & Head of Academy Coaching) added: “It was really valuable to connect with peers and share practices. It shows you the importance of culture, environment, communication and attention to small details. I have been left totally inspired.”

Johan Cruijff ArenA, the venue for the second module of the ECA Academy Management Programme

The Johan Cruijff ArenA stadium was the ideal venue for the first face-to-face meeting of the representatives of the 27 European clubs taking part in the programme.

Participants represent: Shamrock Rovers, BK Hacken, SC Dnipro-1, FC Universitatea Cluj, Crusaders FC, VfL Bochum 1848, FC Dinamo Tbilisi, AS Roma, Arsenal Women FC, SK Slavia Praha, FC Dynamo Kiyv, Riga FC, AGF Aarhus, FC Pyunik, KKS Lech Poznań, Parma Calcio 1913, Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Clube Portugal, Larne FC, NK Maribor, Manchester United FC, Celtic FC, RSC Anderlecht, the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) and the European Club Association (ECA).

For further information on the ECA AMP, or any other ECA Campus education programmes, please contact campus@ecaeurope.com.

The ECA

Academy Management Programme

A product of the ECA Youth Football Strategy and Working Group, this blended executive education programme (9 months) is committed to helping individuals and academies to realise their full potential. Through a tailored and flexible approach, the programme is designed with the specific needs and goals of the participants in mind, working through real-life case studies to support individual growth in key areas of academy management.

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