Andoni Bombín “Outside The Philosophy May Seem To Be A Limitation, But For Us It’s A Great Strength”
Throughout the world of football Athletic Club’s unique philosophy is both admired and misunderstood. Often referred to as the “Basque Only Policy” many outside of the club don’t fully know the system in place. Instead of only fielding players with Basque heritage, Athletic only field players who are either born or formed in the Basque Country. The philosophy is about being tied to the local land rather than heritage.
“Outside the philosophy may seem to be a limitation, but for us it’s a great strength,” said Andoni Bombín, Lezama’s Head of Methodology. Bombín was invited to speak at the Center for Technological Innovation for Mexican football which works alongside the Mexican league. Over 200 professionals were connected to hear Bombín speak.
“Athletic is a benchmark club with very important features. This club is a team of Basque society, which is closely linked to its fans. It’s a situation that helps us understand what we are. We understand that this club has particular values and those must be respected.”
When it comes to youth development there’s always been a debate of whether winning or training is more important. For Athletic, the two always go hand in hand, but working on an individual level with each player is the biggest priority.
“In grassroots football there are two types of objectives. Collective performance, which means winning matches and accumulating titles at the lower levels, and individual performance, which means the improvement of the players who will have a benefit in the end of reaching the first team. This will, in the future, allow us to have profitability through possible transfers or fighting for titles. For us, the player is the main piece of our entire process.”
Due to Athletic’s limited pool of players to choose from, the club is very intentional about identifying talent to bring to Lezama.
“The process at Lezama is clear. The first thing is the detection and selection of players. That is essential as a starting point. Then there is development and training. Ultimately there will be promotion, whether that is continuing to evolve within the club, leaving on loan, or moving up to the first team.”
Apart from talent, the club also looks at personality when scouting players. “Athletic builds a style of play by trying to be protagonists, brave, and with a powerful system,” continued Bombín. “It’s also necessary not to ignore elements such as mentality and the intentions of the coach.”
Ultimately, the club wants to bring young players to Lezama who will be committed to Athletic and work hard to improve. Ability is always important, but not valued about other aspects.
“Each game model caters to different players, starting at the individual level. We’re looking for competitive footballers who are always seeking to be better. We want players who are looking for victory, who handle both profiles because that will give us possibilities of variations, bravery, support, and mentality. We prefer sacrifice and commitment over talent.”
Athletic have already signed a number of players who will join Lezama next season. The club is always looking to bring in the very best from around the area and the future is very bright.