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Flexible high-school system: key to combining football and studies
Flexible high-school system: key to combining football and studies

This system allows the Submarine’s youth players to make the most of their time

Having a more flexible high-school system has become a great advantage for several of Villarreal CF’s youth players who live in the residence at the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground. Many promising Submarine players such as David Tirado, Dani Gamboa, Markel Gil, Celso Bermejo, Mario Gil, Joel Sánchez, Alberto García, Alejandro Ciria and Carlos Granados are benefiting from this new format with the help of the club’s teaching staff and the IES Francesc Ribalta.

“There are no lessons like in the face-to-face format we are used to. On this online platform they have all the course content, access to their corresponding coach and teachers, as well as exam dates and other information”. This is how Arturo Jiménez, coordinator of the Villarreal CF Studies Department, explains it, who knows the players academic day-to-day routine first-hand.

Jiménez began his career at the club as a psychologist and, from the Psychology Department, he began to create the Studies Department because of the need that existed: “There was the library and some external teachers came, but we saw that more could be done,” says the psychologist.

Smaller groups

One of the keys to the success of this model is the individual focus and attention the teaching staff at the residence has, as the study groups are reduced to a  smaller size. “The 10 children are divided into two groups of five, and when some are taking one subject, the others are taking another; each group with a teacher, between 9 and 14 hours”, explains Jiménez.

On the other hand, it should be noted that “it works because there are always people in charge here. It would be more likely that, without being in the residence, the youngsters would end up dropping out because the sporting demands are very high, involve a lot of effort and require a lot of time,” argues the coordinator of studies. “Let’s not forget that they are teenagers and we have to be on top of them because they are in their second last year of high-school, but now they are more relaxed, which is what they needed. They now have exams and they study for longer hours,” he adds.

Support combining sport and studies

The main benefit for the young footballers is the optimisation of their time, as they avoid travelling to school in the mornings and gain time to eat before training. “They have fewer teaching hours, but as the groups are so small, they are more productive, and in that sense, the lads are happier because they used to get up at 7am to be in school at 8am and leave at 3pm, when they had to be on the pitch at around 3.30pm. At the end of the season they were exhausted because it was a lot of effort. Now we are gaining an hour of sleep”, Jiménez underlines, adding that “for them, their main occupation is football, but we don’t want to leave aside the academic part with the holistic dual career as long as it is compatible, but we make sure that it is, that is what we are there for, to organise and help them”.

Thus, future stars such as Gamboa and Tirado, who play at the highest level of youth football, can finish their pre-university studies with guarantees while enjoying the game at the highest level, their great passion, which has become their main profession.