Andoni Ayarza “Children Born Here Want To Be At Athletic”

Rafa Alkorta Andoni Ayarza

Andoni Ayarza with Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta (MD)

Lezama is the essence of Athletic. The club’s commitment to youth development is unrivaled in modern football and every year many other clubs come to Bilbao to learn from the best. Speaking with La Liga in a special focus on the academy, Assistant Sporting Director Andoni Ayarza explained the importance of Lezama.

“I came here when I was 12 years old and when you get the call from Athletic it’s the dream of every child from Bizkaia. Lezama is one of the greatest forces of Athletic. It’s normal that children born here want to be at Athletic. Other clubs have more media strength or win titles, but Bizkaian children want to be at Athletic today. Lezama is the great strength of the club because the basis of the future lies in the children.”

Ayarza went on to state that the ultimate goal of the academy is to sign the most promising young players as early as possible. From there, every day is spent developing the players to one day reach the first team which is no easy task.

“The goal of Lezama is to be successful in capturing the best at the Alevín level. Our goal is for everyone to step on field number one and then to reach the first team. Reaching the first team is difficult and our daily goal is to train and make players better. Innate talent is very important and then you have to work with the methodology. It’s a long process that encompasses many people. From the smallest detail in the physical aspect to the small detail in the technical and emotional, in all areas of the club it’s important that we are all building footballers to reach the first team.”

For his part, Head of Methodology Andoni Bombín explained how the entire club operates very closely. “Athletic is a family”, he said. “We try to instill an identity, a sense of belonging and a commitment that goes beyond external and material elements. It’s our focus. In the society in which we live today, it isn’t easy, but we work hard to create that identity.”

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