Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

Xavier Martin

Santiago de Chile, 20 September (EFE) .- Chile’s future “starts from the bottom, in youth football”, which is the basis of success but which requires more investment and a comprehensive strategy that works together and integrates the federation, the professional football association ( ANFP), government and clubs, La Rosa Sports Director, Francis Cagigao, assured Ife.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the recruitment of senior and under-23 teams in Europe, the Spanish coach explained the details of a medium and long-term plan, which has led to success at European and South American clubs. And teams like Brazil, with whom it’s about modernizing Chilean soccer and lifting it out of short-term servitude.

An ambitious strategy that includes innovative decisions in Chile – such as the creation of an under-23 team and the foundation of a special research, scouting and analysis organization, which did not exist in the country – and that allows the work to continue in time, even if the change in the ANFP Either, as happens in world football powerhouses.

.- This is the second World Cup that Chile watches on television. There the necessity of rebirth is mentioned. But what is the strategy?
We have been talking and preaching about reincarnation for some time. We built a sub-23 as one of the pillars of that rebirth. Since I arrived, I have been very involved in the project… When I met Eduardo (Berrizo) for the first time in Madrid, before signing the contract, it was discussed that he was the one to wear the U-23.

Francis Cagigao
Francis Cagigao, sporting director of the Chilean football team, during an interview with EFE. EFE/Rodrigo Sage

Logically, the second step is the sub-20s. Now we are going to play an important tournament in Spain, against England, the current world and category European champions, against Australia and against Morocco, three World Cup teams that are on the rise and I think it will be very good. Trials for young players so they can continue training and gain that international background which is important.

An innovative strategy in Chile

.- players for the immediate present, for the near future, or for both?
They can be the immediate future of Chile. I want to say that Chile’s future starts at the bottom. It has already started with our under-15 team, we want to build an under-14 based on a project we have for regions. And the work of sub-17.
We have many activities scheduled with those groups between now and the end of the year. We are working hard and I would like to think that this is the future, it starts there, it starts at the bottom because logically you have to start training footballers and people.

.- got into the field, what does the strategy consist of, what is the big change?
18 months ago we had no coaching staff, not even at Under-15s and Under-17s. There is a need to arm these technical bodies. And we have separated U20 football from youth football. (National teams) go hand in hand, they exchange information, have training sessions, have regular meetings.
It all starts with the new identification, scouting and analysis department created in 2022 where we see very large groups of football players starting from the age of 13, then we micro cycle, we reduce the groups. Live analysis on the court, field trips and video, complimentary work that didn’t exist before and will be there for those to come.
And we complement it with new projection groups. The players are different years, which means they can work together in an exclusive training climate. And organizing international matches, foreign tours, which are the core of training

Investment and coordination

.- What is the main deficiency?
What is needed most is investment. You can do a lot by investing. It is very difficult to function without it. You can be creative, things can be done, but logically if we are going to talk about better pitches, better professionals, better infrastructure and facilities then investment is very necessary.
The clubs, the government, the ANFP itself, who are already doing so much good to stimulate youth football, and this board of directors frown. That was the plan since I arrived, to work from the bottom up. That is the strength of the work.

.- But it seems that clubs are more interested in buying and selling players than investing in their training?
What people see is absolute and everyone wants it to succeed, but for that to happen, this work from below, this constructive work is very important to be strong.
Clubs, federations, ANFP and government all need to invest more in youth football.

Opportunities for youth

.- What do Chilean soccer players have and don’t have?
A lot of courage is missing, I’m not just talking about Chile, but in football in general. It is also true that it is said here that Chilean soccer players mature later, I do not think that is the case, I believe that they must be given a chance, I believe that we must bet on them and invest in youth football.
This footballer is going to be the arrival of young people with talent and mentality. We see the Spanish team in the European Championship of 18, 19, 20 years. Why is Germany not in Chile? Obviously I think, there are talented footballers, it’s just a matter of more work, better work and promoting all things constructive football to project these players at a young age.
Then, logically, there are those who mature more, those who mature earlier and those who mature later. But I fully believe that footballers should come earlier to make their debut and establish themselves in first division teams.

competitive level

.- Chilean clubs do not advance to international competition and the league is not one of the continent’s strongest. Is there a lack of competitive levels?
We do everything we can to promote young Chilean footballers. We have a stage-jumping project, young footballers like Marcelino Núñez, who has now moved abroad, or like Dario Osorio, who rose quickly from the U-17s to the senior team last year. It’s very specific and specific work that we’ve been doing for fifteen months to get them to jump to that stage.

Perhaps it lacks conviction. As you play for your club you acquire some international baggage with your national team. I think that the Chilean soccer player needs to be more convincing. For a young player to take off the sacred player or golden generation shirt, he has to tear it by hand. Because they won’t give it to you. But to be sure, you have to have the opportunity too.

Web Editing: Nuria Santesteban

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