Every year important results and dozens of young talents in the National teams: even if Atalanta’s First Team is in the spotlight, as it is competing for its first time to the Champions League and gaining incredible results in the Serie A, the true flagship of the black and blue club based in Bergamo is still its Academy. Thanks to constant investments and to an organization worthy of the best clubs in Europe, Atalanta Academy is indeed more and more living up as the best in Italy: within the “Centro Sportivo Bortolotti” in Zingonia, the young black and blue players can count on top level infrastructure and equipment, and the results arrives with a regular basis that witnesses the quality of the work done by the club.
The strengths of Atalanta Academy
“There is not a real secret in this Youth Academy’s successes“, declared about it Alberto Pasini, physical trainer of the U19 Atalanta team and head of the trainers of the Academy, “Very simply, the weapons of this club are the hard work, the organization and the strong belief in what we do. In addition, I think it is self-evident even only by crossing the gates of Zingonia Sports Center that we have top quality infrastructure and equipment to work with, and this is the result of the foresight of the club, who is constantly investing on this youth sector. Here at Atalanta, even though the First Team is achieving unexpectable results, the Academy is still considered the most important part of the club, and this perception, for what I have seen since I work here, is even growing over time”.
A very strong signal of how much Atalanta is investing on its youth sector has been sent in the latest months, with the realization of a new building inside Zingonia sports center which has been completely dedicated to the Academy in order to valorize not only the players but also all the managers and the technical and medical staff. Inside the new building, that has been entitled to the former head of the Youth Sector Mino Favini, there is also a gym completely dedicated to the young players, equipped with a custom black and blue Rackstation, weightlifting platforms with Atalanta’s logo and all sort of functional and athletic training tools.
A project that parallels with a reorganization of the technical staff of the Academy: 12 training areas have been identified, from technical-tactical preparation to the prevention/rehabilitation from the injuries, each one with a specialist in charge that lay down the guidelines for all the Academy teams for what concerns his field, from the youngest to the Under 19.
From the players’ point of view: the experience of Rodrigo Guth
In the U19 team of Atalanta there is also one of the most talented players in the Italian “Primavera” League: Rodrigo Guth is a Brazilian 19y.o. central defender that is now starting his third season in Atalanta Academy and, therefore, can perfectly witness the quality of Bergamo youth sector: “It’s not just a matter of infrastructure and equipment, which nevertheless are absolutely perfect, from the pitches to the gym, but most of all of the people who work for Atalanta. Here in Zingonia I found a real family, and this helped me very much in adapting to Italian football, which is completely different from Brazilian one. Also talking about the preparation there are many differences: in Italy everything is faster, you never stay still. The training sessions are much shorter but also much more intense. We train in the gym every day, both for the warmup and for strengthening: this is essential to reach the correct physical and athletic conditions and to keep them for the whole duration of the season”.
Youth football and strength training in the gym are not that easy to be combined, especially for what concerns the youngest categories of an Academy: “When you are only a child, and you can’t really understand the benefits that you can obtain by having this kind of training, you would like to only play with the ball“, Rodrigo said, “When you get to understand that in modern football the physical training is essential and that it is a good thing for you, you also understand that you have to do it, even though it means working hard and you don’t like it”.
The transition from the Academy to professional football
The successes of Atalanta Academy may therefore be based on a strong culture of work transmitted to the players, who seem to find also less difficulties on moving up to professional football (according to a recent report from CIES, the black and blues Academy is one of the first for players provided to the top 5 European leagues): “There might be many reasons behind this trend“, explains Pasini, “and one of them is surely that Atalanta is very good in finding and choosing really talented young players. We have not a magical wand that makes them becoming good players from one day to another: our scouting network is a real excellence, and this makes everything easier for all of us in the Academy. In addition, I think that another element that contributes is that our main goal as Academy is to form good players and not to win matches or competitions: our successes are nothing but the consequence of the individual improvements made by the single players and I think that this may help them getting more ready for professional football”.
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