Football academies not only produce new talents that can nurture the first team but also help to create a unique brand image that allows clubs to make themselves known around the world.
In this sense, Valencia CF has taken significant new steps in its international expansion, making agreements to open new VCF Academies with the prestigious College Bourget in Montreal, Canada as well as opening further sites in: Athens, Greece; Sofia, Bulgaria and Nicosia, Cyprus.
All of these new sites offer young people the chance to develop as players following the methods and values of the club, thereby continuing the strategic plan of the VCF Academy to increase the club’s global appeal.
Increasing international presence
The VCF Academies follow a motto of 'We educate people, we train footballers.' In addition to academic study, the centres teach elements such as the values of sport, fair play, the fight against racism and gender equality.
"For us it is very important to spread these projects around the world,” explained Borja Eroles, Valencia CF's head of international projects. “The Academy is a way of marketing, branding and helping young people to develop.”
“It is one of the club's main tools and one of the jewels that we care the most about,” he added. “We are all very aware that it is vitally important that Valencia CF is not only known in Valencia, Spain or the Valencian Community, but also internationally.”
The importance of North America
The new Montreal Academy adds to sites that the club already has across the continent in Houston, Seattle and New York.
On the decision to expand its presence in North America, Eroles explained: “We believe that it is a place where we have to be, as do other great brands. Football is not the main sport but it is growing exponentially; there will be a World Cup in North America in 2026 and women's football has always been very developed there. With our resources, we can collaborate so that an even stronger football ecosystem can be created."
In College Bourget, the club is aligning itself with an institution that has more than 170 years of history, earning a global reputation as an educational centre. “The infrastructure is of the highest quality and there is an equal emphasis on education as much as sporting progress,” Eroles continued. “We knew it was the right place to be."
On the drive to help players continue academia while developing as footballers, Eroles said: “Becoming a professional footballer is not easy so we attach great importance to personal development, where players can have skills off the pitch too.”
Ongoing global growth
The club now has more than 10 permanent academies that are spread over four continents, with plans to continue expanding in the future. “In Europe, we have a presence in the United Kingdom (London), Italy (Rome) as well as the new academies in Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus,” Eroles explained.
The longest-running academy project is in Japan, where the club has offices in Wakayama and Osaka. It has also been developing its Shanghai, China academy for more than three years, while opening a project in Busan, South Korea more recently.
Beyond this, the club is making progress in Africa. “A few months ago we were fortunate to open our first project in Morocco,” Eroles said. “It was an unusual start due to COVID-19, but we have high hopes for this project.”
While there is no current current site in Oceania, the club has ongoing relationships with players from Australia and New Zealand who visit the Valencia CF Paterna Sports City every year.
"We are working to have a much greater presence in Asia and the Americas, both the United States and Canada and South America," Eroles concluded. "For this, we hope to see more academies in the future."