The Fairfax-based academy was the first of 25 that exist today
In the city of Fairfax, Virginia, it all began. Villarreal Virginia Academy was launched there in 2017. An academy that has grown from strength to strength with nearly 400 young talents now enjoying and learning under the guidance of the Yellows.
As with all of Villarreal’s international academies, VIVA, as the academy is known, receives regular support from Yellows’ coaches in Spain, as well the opportunity to visit Spain for a unique experience.
Bo Amato, VIVA executive director, explains the difference between Villarreal and other clubs with international academies. “I’ve been involved with coaching in the US for many years. Lots of kids have a passion to play and I found the pathway very difficult. I’d met and spoken to multiple professional teams from Europe over the years and I had the pleasure of one day speaking to Villarreal. The idea came about of them having coaches over here and training our coaches and being heavily involved, which is not like I perceive other operations, which I believe are just shirt deals.”
Carlos Aranda, VIVA technical director, feels extremely connected to Villarreal in Spain. “We are not just wearing the Villarreal jersey. We truly are a Villarreal academy in Virginia,” he says, adding: “LALIGA and Spanish clubs are very popular here. It’s been great for the community, allowing players and families to go to Spain and train with professionals.”
The club hopes to create a pathway for youngsters to improve their skills, whether it be in Spain or the US: “Our dream is to have our players feature for the first team at some point,” declares Aranda, who adds: “The goal for the club is to create an environment where the kids can develop personally and as a player and hopefully play their very best.”
Villarreal has 25 academies around the world, nine of which are in the United States. For more information, visit the International Academies section of our web.