Athletic Club’s policy of fielding only players born or raised in the Basque Country has now become known across the world. Many consider it amazing that a club with such a limited pool can stay competitive for so long, but Athletic do not see it that way. The focus on Lezama has been the pillar of the club’s success and that isn’t changing. Sporting Director José María Amorrortu recently spoke with French media and said that Athletic takes a different approach to the development of young players.
“In my opinion, the most important aspect of the strategy we are implementing for our academy is the fact that the players are at the center of our project and focus. The most important part of the work we have to do in the development of our young players is to educate them so that they can be totally responsible and autonomous. We strive to ensure that coaches can create an environment of real learning, which is what allows players to develop later. Then they take their responsibilities and finally become self-sufficient.”
Amorrortu went on to say that with a proper focus on youth development there is no need to go out and buy big names. The Basque giants do not see competitiveness as something that requires a lot of wealth or a massive transfer budget. Athletic prefers to keep their principles of values in tact and train their own players in Lezama to become stars at the San Mamés.
“It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on big names. You can simply educate and develop quality young players. For that to happen, you obviously have to produce quality work. Being competitive is not a matter of wealth or of how big your budget is. The most important thing is to have principles and beliefs.”
In closing, Amorrortu also discussed the opening of the club’s next female youth team at Lezama. He took pride in pointing out that this will help promote the dreams of young girls in the area who want to play for Athletic one day in addition to helping the first team continue to be successful. The club has been one of the leaders on the forefront of women’s football in the area.
“Firstly, from the social point of view, given the deep roots of Athletic in the province of Bizkaia, this helps to promote and reinforce the dreams of girls who are linked with the club from the youngest age. From now on, they are not only amateurs, they can be players. This allows us to have a competitive team in Bizkaia, which can fight at the highest level. This is a sporting ambition with which Athletic fans can identify. Since the creation of the first team in 2002, the effect of mobilization created by Athletic has led to an increase in the number of licenses for women in the area. This is a success for the club.”
As the world of football continues to change and evolve, Athletic Club remains the same. The Basques have forever held to their identity that has seen sustained success and given joy to the fans. Lezama has become one of the most prolific academies in all of football and that is something to be proud of. At the same time, Athletic’s work in cultivating and fostering growth in women’s football has positively impacted the region. The future is bright because the future is secure.