Three young American talents awarded LaLiga Select scholarships landed in Spain in May for a training camp in the youth academies of three LaLiga Santander clubs: RC Celta, Deportivo Alavés and Levante UD. The players have the experience of being part of three of the best youth academies in LaLiga, training with their coaches, using their methodology and living with their youth players over the month. In addition, the clubs have organised various educational activities for in-depth immersion in the culture of the clubs and their regions.
LaLiga Select, launched in 2021 by LaLiga North America together with LaLiga Grassroots and ISL, is the first youth scouting project started by an international football organisation in North America. Since its launch in January 2021, events have been held in several locations across the region with more than 12,000 participants.
The three selected players come from very different places: Jacobo Alatorre, an attacking midfielder, plays for El Paso Locomotives (Texas, USA) is at the Levante UD youth academy; Abraham Horta, centre-forward for Lockport FC, is with the Deportivo Alavés youth team; and Everton Augustin, a right-sided centre-back who is part of LaLiga Academy Canada, the academy for high performing players that LaLiga has in the country, is working together with the youth players of RC Celta.
"LaLiga North America's commitment to this project is based on two fundamental principles: on the one hand, the potential of talent in the region, as the USA has the second largest number of registered football players in the world, with more than 4 million; on the other hand, the horizon of opportunities offered by hosting the 2026 World Cup in the country, which will grow the football industry locally. LaLiga is looking to help drive this growth and, given the success of this initiative, we plan to launch the next one soon,” says Boris Gartner, CEO of LaLiga North America.
“These scholarships offer a range of opportunities for growth, visibility, and improvement of the technical-tactical level for these players, in addition to experiencing first-hand what it is like to play for a club in one of the best leagues in the world. LaLiga's youth academies are an international benchmark, something that is largely due to the care taken to develop their own methodological programmes and the selection of coaches, therefore, the scholarship holders are able to learn from top professionals and train alongside young home-grown players who represent the future of Spanish football,” states Juan Florit, head of Sports Projects at LaLiga Grassroots.
“It's a source of pride to see LaLiga Select players training at clubs such as Celta, Alavés and Levante. We knew it was a programme with a lot of potential and that it was going to give opportunities to the players, but also to LaLiga clubs who can now attract North American talent. We are certain that Jacobo, Abraham and Everton will be an example for other players who dream of competing in Spain,” says Alex Isern, CEO & Co-Founder of ISL.
The three phases of LaLiga Select
LaLiga Select, the talent spotting and development programme launched in 2021 by LaLiga North America in partnership with ISL, is entering its third and final phase this season. In the first phase, which started in January 2021, a total of 14 events and tournaments took place in places like Texas, New York and Las Vegas (Nevada) with a total of 12,000 participants between 13 and 19 years old. From these 12,000 players, LaLiga scouts and coaches selected the best 118 players for the second phase.
The second phase took place in Madrid in March 2022: The 118 players selected took part in an intensive training camp in the capital to learn the LaLiga methodology with coaches from the organisation. Divided into seven teams, the young talents played different matches with youth teams from LaLiga clubs such as Atlético de Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Getafe CF, CF Fuenlabrada and CD Leganés. From these 118, the LaLiga professionals selected the four most outstanding players, one of whom has just been selected to join Real Salt Lake's youth academy, one club in the MLS, the top league in the USA, and the other three have received a scholarship to carry out an intensive training camp at RC Celta, Deportivo Alavés and Levante UD, that will help players to raise their performance level.
In addition, some of the players participating in future editions of LaLiga Select are also expected to have the opportunity to undertake part of their training at LaLiga Academy or LaLiga Camps, the long-term academic-sports programmes that will be hosted by the new ESC Madrid Centre. The ESC Centre is the hub for grassroots football for LaLiga clubs, which will open its doors in summer 2022 and will also house these new LaLiga Grassroots programmes for male and female international players in the capital.