The U11s’ impressive feat
The U11s’ impressive feat

Villarreal U11s are competing against U12s and have qualified for the top league

The U11s (Alevín B) have shown that they are a golden generation of the Yellows Academy. The boys, coached by Adri Cardosa, Carlos Saura, Rafa Melchor and Enrique Altemir, are in the first year of the ‘alevín’ age group (U11s and U12). However, they are competing in a league with players a year older than then, and after the first stage of the season, they have qualified for ‘Liga 1’, the next stage of the season for the best teams of each group in the first stage. The Yellows finished second in their league, with eight wins and only one defeat, to the champions CD Roda, who they faced once more, this time in Liga 1, beating them 9-2.

“For us, competing every weekend against teams who are a year older is a challenge that motivates us, as there are big differences at these ages. This high level that our opponents demand from us makes us have to be even more committed as a group to continue improving in all aspects,” explains one of the coaches, Cardosa.

This is even more important taking into account that youth teams have missed out on a number of games that they would usually have played in recent seasons due to COVID-19, and the differences in learning time between them and older players could have grown. “It’s true that due to the pandemic, there are a lot of experiences that the boys have missed out on. We’ve seen so many tournaments, training sessions and matches cancelled,” underlines Melchor.

However, he adds that: “As a consequence of this, we see that the players can’t wait to be here every day and capitalise on every moment we have together to continue forming themselves not only as footballers but also on a personal level. If we unite the great talent that the group has individually and collectively, it means that despite some difficulties, we have bene able to compete in every match.” Every game is a challenge for these young Yellows.

To be able to go head-to-head with the best U12 teams in the province, work in training sessions trying to replicate match situations is vital: “We have a lot of concepts that we work with the boys on, both individually and as a team. Individually, we try and adapt ourselves to what each player needs. Our work is focused on trying to make the most of their strengths and improve on possible areas where they could work a little more on,” emphasises Saura, adding: “As a group, we always like to take control of the ball. We make it clear that dominating games through possession is important for us, as is trying to win it back as soon as possible when we lose the ball.”

Despite the coaching team’s touchline comments to the players during their demanding games, the U11s can be characterised for their self-sufficiency. Cardosa says: “It is a value which the club always work on. Because we are facing physically superior opponents, we try and explain to them that hard work, focus and intensity are extremely important to be able to compete against players a year older than them,” adding: “What’s more, we always try and carry out our game plan through possession of the ball to stop the physicality being more determining than the technical and tactical side of the game.”

Melchor underlines that: “If we assess the team, our valuation is very positive. At the moment, they’re leaving an egocentric side of childhood behind, and we’re seeing how every day the group is a lot more cohesive than in previous seasons.” While Altemir adds: “THey are currently at an age where they are like sponges, and they only want us to give them new tools and resources. That’s why we’re seeing them both grow personally and as footballers”.

In recent seasons, a number of academy players have made their debuts for the first team, and that is something the youngsters look up to as they continue fighting for their dream. “It’s very motivating and gratifying for the boys to see how other players who have trained on the pitches they are training on now have the chance of playing at the Estadio de la Cerámica with the first team. They know the luck they have belonging to this great club and having their footballing idols so close,” finalizes Saura.

Squad: Andreu Viciedo, Carlos Alós, Carlos Díaz, Daniel Vizuete, Ferran Fortuny, Gael Palomar, Izan González, Jeroni Serra, Marc Rodríguez, Mario Romero & Gonzalo Tabares.

Coaching staff: Adri Cardosa, Carlos Saura, Rafa Melchor & Enrique Altemir.