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The importance of nutrition for Villarreal’s youngsters
The importance of nutrition for Villarreal’s youngsters

Héctor Uso, head of Medical Services, explains more about the diet of the Yellows Academy youngsters

The importance of the youth set-up for Villarreal CF is no secret. The Yellows Academy is a reference worldwide in terms of forming players, and is part of some of the best competitions around, such as LaLiga Promises International and the UEFA Youth League. One of the most important aspects in forming young promises from Miralcamp is nutrition. Héctor Usó, the club’s head of medical services, has been speaking about what the Yellows Academy youngsters’ diet is like.

“In the life of an athlete, nutrition is extremely important. You need to take into account that what we ingest is what makes us able to develop in terms of bone structure, muscle mass and even in terms of brain development. It is what makes you have more energetic capacity, both in terms of running and in terms of recovery. If you ingest what you should do, you have more possibilities of getting the best performance out of your body,” explains Usó.

The man in charge of nutrition, both in the first team and in the academy, has underlined its importance for the youngest players in the club: “At Villarreal, we believe that a youth-team player is just as important as a first-team player. We want the medical services to work with the first team and the youth teams, because they are the future of the club. We also have people who help us with youth football, of course, such as other nutritionists.”

What is the diet of an academy player like?

Usó explains: “We look for two things clearly. We base ourselves a lot in seasonal food, and local food, which are fundamental. We have to also focus on two necessities. We need to get the most out of the players on a sporting level, but they also dedicate a lot of time to their studies. They eat fruit and vegetables, and high-quality proteins, such as fish and eggs, but they also eat carbohydrates, like quinoa. We use fatty acids, such as those from fish, nuts, or avocados, for their studies.”

Another aspect to take into account is how things can change for each player: “We make variations depending on their age and physical complexion. We also do anthropometric studies to know the percentage of fat and muscle mass each player has and we adapt their diets to that. The quantity of carbohydrates, proteins and fats change every day. The diet on a Monday isn’t the same as a diet on a Friday.”

The Yellows Academy, a reference for nutrition

Usó underlined that Villarreal was a pioneering side in terms of nutrition for academy players: “When the Training Ground wasn’t even complete, Villarreal were already developing nutritional plans for the kids who were in flats owned by the club. Fernando Roig Negueroles always believed that nutrition was very important for all athletes, and since he started to take charge at Villareal, he started a plan for that.”

However, when the Miralcamp Training Ground was built, everything was easier: “Back then, we had a chef for the academy players inf lats, but with the Training Ground, we took a step forward, and we had our own plans, which were more advanced.”

The aim, as Usó confesses, is to instil healthy habits in the players that they can use throughout their lives. “What we give them to eat here is great, but we need to know that in the future, they will go and live in their own places, and they need to know what to eat because Villarreal’s philosophy is forming people, in terms of sports, in terms of nutrition and in terms of their academic life. Even if one day they leave Villarreal, we want to feel satisfaction with the formation we’ve given them.