The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily halted matches from being played around the world, a situation that has affected not only the top professionals but those who are currently learning the game.
Through more than 300 projects created in 35 different countries, LaLiga has built a global network of sporting initiatives that is helping to create the next generation of playing talent. Ordinarily, they would be taking part in sessions held at one of the league’s global academies, under the watch of one of the league’s 450 professional coaches. But with so many now forced to stay at home, normal routines have been disrupted.
In recent weeks, the league’s sporting projects department has redesigned its offering to ensure that its football training programmes can continue for the thousands of youngsters who are already involved. By working in partnership with the league’s digital department, the team has put together ‘LaLiga At Home’ a series of new virtual activities and content that can drive its global training programmes forward.
“One of our key values is to overcome challenges and we wanted to show our players that their training can continue despite difficult circumstances,” said Hugo Blanco, sports project manager at LaLiga. “We’ve seen a huge global collaboration to help create online programmes that can take their football education forward.”
Following LaLiga’s coaching methodology, ‘LaLiga At Home’ activities focus on mental as well as physical training and encompass learning activities, workout tips, quizzes, skills challenges and testimonies from LaLiga professional coaches, with the support of clubs.
The package is already being used by LaLiga’s official academies in Miami, Dubai, as well as across the LaLiga Football Schools project in India, which currently reaches more than 3,300 boy and girl players.
Building skills without leaving the home
To help youngsters stay fit during this period of confinement, the department has produced a series of videos that focus on physical training without leaving the home. In a series of explanatory videos, coaches share a series of different stretches and routines with accompanying written instructions.
On the playing side, the department has also created a range of skills challenges, taking into account that many participants may not have garden space or even a football to train with. The activities range from simple to advanced and many feature everyday household items, including brooms, buckets and toilet rolls.
Virtual learning with clubs
To help inspire the youngsters, the league has continued its collaboration with clubs to prepare a range of virtual seminars. In these videos of 10 to 15 minutes, a LaLiga coach or club professional discusses various educational topics related to football, from healthy eating and nutrition to the models used by the academies of Spanish football. Methodology experts from clubs such as Athletic Club, Celta de Vigo and Valencia CF have already taken part in this initiative.
Further contributions are being made with the ‘LaLiga Testimony’ series, which offers videos from LaLiga or club professionals who explain the ins and outs of one of their daily projects, offering an insight into what a career in professional football actually looks like.
In addition, a selection of quizzes have also been developed to help the players keep their minds sharp. These challenges cover different aspects of the game, from technical and tactical analysis to knowledge of the players and teams of LaLiga. Offered in a variety of formats, from riddles to wordsearches, these footballing brain games provide entertainment and education in equal measure.
Continuing a global initiative
LaLiga’s sporting projects have been running for five years with the aim of developing the sport of football worldwide, while sharing the league’s unique approach and helping to build greater global awareness of the competition and its clubs. Through its 9 international academies and other bespoke projects, it currently reaches more than 160,000 boy and girl players of all ages and backgrounds.
“We have a responsibility to maintain the development of these players and our coaches and clubs are fully committed to this,” Blanco added. “There isn’t a lot of football being played at the moment but we can help to ensure that the love of the game keeps growing.”