TUTORING ACTIVITY: PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE
Every day, as part of their sporting activities, our young players deal with issues that go beyond the pitch. The young players are called on to make decisions as a group and to manage relationships with opponents while also dealing with the ups and downs of victory and defeat. All of this at a time when they are dealing with the demands of student life and everything on the football side. The training ground at Vismara is built to deal with all of this. A mix of different situations and emotions which can be difficult to define, often coming all at once.
It’s a delicate time in the lives of these young players who are not old enough to be considered professionals but neither are they young enough to be considered kids. Because of this, the figure of the Tutor is an important one as each day they play a vital role at the Rossoneri’s Academy. You train and you grow and there is the added excitement that comes from having mentors who were Rossoneri legends, who have great personal knowledge of what is needed in a balanced sporting life.
Tutoring activities emerged from AC Milan’s desire to create a relationship between the players, their families, educational institutions and the Club. Over the years, it has been clear that managing the balance between educational and sporting results is crucial in the personal development of the players. In order to help the youngsters with both their need to spend as much time on the pitch as possible while not neglecting their schoolwork, the Club identified and took on qualified professional figures who can support them in their education. Nowadays, this activity is aimed at those boarding with AC Milan.
SCOUTING ACTIVITY: PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE
The Academy has built a structure for the identification and development of talent. There are different teams ranging from the Primavera to the Pulcini which simultaneously deal with both the needs of the players and the Club.
Such activity has taken on increased importance due to the UEFA regulations which state that a European squad list must contain at least four home-grown players (article 15.08). A player is considered home-grown at club level (15.09) if “regardless of their nationality, they have been trained by their club or by another club in the same national association for at least three years between the age of 15 and 21.”
In accordance with such European legislation, AC Milan has created an efficient network of scouts. On a daily basis, they follow instructions from the scouting structure and watch matches across different levels in all regions of Italy, with particular attention paid to the Lombardy region, especially in the younger age groups.
THE MEDICAL FACILITY
Composed of eight doctors and fourteen physiotherapists, the medical structure of the AC Milan Youth Sector deals with all issues related to the physical health of the kids who make up the Rossoneri youth sector. A demanding job faced daily with great responsibility and great attention to the problems related to sports and youth pathologies.
The medical specialities, in fact, range from Sports Medicine to Orthopedics and Traumatology, to Physiotherapy and General Medicine, embracing the Modus Operandi of Milan Lab, through collaboration with athletic trainers to solve postural problems and the dimorphisms of young athletes in growth. In addition to this, great attention is given to food education and above all to the fight against doping and drugs, involving the parents of the same athletes, in agreement with the club’s management. From this point of view, a series of meetings with doctors and psychologists are scheduled each year to tackle these problems with the right approach.
The operational headquarters is located within the Vismara centre and consists of a medical area plus a diagnostic and rehabilitation therapy area. The medical staff are also present during all official and friendly sports competitions, both at home and away, in order to manage even the most complex injuries with professionalism.
MILAN LAB: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR YOUTH FOOTBALL
In recent years, Milan has put a lot of effort into improving monitoring the health of young Rossoneri talents. The relationship between Milan Lab and the academy has therefore been strengthened in order to apply consistent methods at every level of the Club.
With regard to this, the physiological and aptitude tests developed with the First Team have recently also been applied to the younger players, alongside the existing tests designed especially for the 6-18 age bracket. Every player linked to Milan can therefore benefit from personalised monitoring wherever they are in the world. The system also provides important information about the players’ health and mental state to the Club and the player’s family. The data collected is stored in a comprehensive database which allows for decisions to be made to determine the best possible intervention strategy in as personalised a fashion as possible. In every single season, around 10,000 data points are collected and stored by the laboratory.
In contrast to the usual position of a coach as a member of a single team, the Milan Lab project sees the coaches work in different roles across the age groups to create greater synergy in pursuit of objectives. Therefore, the coaching staff as a whole are seen to be points of reference for all rather than individual coaches for specific teams.
Therefore, there are no coaches with responsibility for a single group, but rather the coaching staff work at the disposal of every side. Coaches rotate between teams and collaborate with physiotherapists to assist the recovery of injured players. Fitness and conditioning work is designed according to the training protocols decided on by the staff in the planning phase.
THE "PER UNO SPORT VINCENTE" PROJECT - "TOWARDS A SUCCESSFUL SPORT"
In collaboration with the High School of Psychology l’Alta Scuola di Psicologia “A. Gemelli” at the Università Cattolica in Milan, The AC Milan Youth Sector launched the “PER UNO SPORT VINCENTE” project in 2009. The main objective is to further enhance the position of the Youth Sector as one of the club’s prize assets. The programme is intended for both the Rossoneri youngsters, with the aim of supporting them in their sporting and personal development process, and for the adult figures, who guide them in this experience and who have an influence on the standard of the youth sector.
In this ambitious project, various themes related to the different age groups have been suggested, regarding the expectations and pressures placed upon them by the adult world, be it from their families or the Club. Because of this, different activities have been designed both at a basic and a more advanced level for those playing at a competitive standard, depending on who is involved.
Together with the young players, various initiatives are often discussed. On the one hand, the aim is to aid their development by making the most of the resources available and to also help them deal with the fatigue and issues that can arrive in what is a challenging situation. To do this, pathways have been designed for the young sportspeople on specific topics. These include: meeting players living in boarding houses; observing the coaching staff in training; matches; leisure activities; and topics relating to multiculturalism, which is one of UEFA’s top priorities.
On the other hand, a substantial part of the project is dedicated to offer opportunities for comparison and reflection among the adult figures who play a fundamental role in the educational work that characterises the Youth Sector. With support from the coaches of all the teams, the Club have started to run training courses that include themes such as the identity of the coaches, parent/child relationships, motivation, abandonment, communication and teamwork for both players and coaches.
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