A model to follow around the world. Kashima Gakuen are the U18 side from Kashima Academy in Japan, and have been training and playing all week at Villarreal CF's facilities. And it's not the first time either. In fact, for the past 18 years they have been coming from Japan to immerse themselves in the Yellows Academy's methodology. Loyalty and admiration.
The young talents are U18s the majority of them receive scholarships within a Japanese school programme. More than 30 of the most promising footballers come to Spain for an unforgettable experience. This week was special, because, as well as the usual training sessions and matches against Yellows Academy sides, they got a surprise visit from Marcos Senna. The former player and current Institutional Relations Department members, shared a fun-filled training session with them.
The team's coach is Masato Suzuki, who follows Villarreal from a distance. The manager explains the reasons for the collaboration: "We knew that Villarreal were looking for continual improvement and development with a distinct methodology and we also wanted to be part of this progression, so we signed the agreement as one of the Villarreal academies around the world. We're a team from a school in the Ibaraki province in Japan. Within the province, we're one of the best teams, but we don't want to rest on our laurels, and Villarreal are helping our growth with their methodology. We're looking for continual learning, both with our coaches and players, which is key to grow as a team."
For Suzuki, getting out of your comfort zone is key to growth: "There are so many things you can't be aware of if you don't leave Japan... You realise that standards there aren't the same as worldwide standards. As we've been visiting Villarreal for 18 years, I've realised that I constantly have to learn. I've advised my players to immerse themselves in Villarreal, and honestly, that's what they're doing. I seem them as really up for it."
Passion for Villarreal knows no boundaries. In fact, the coach recognises that the club are very well respected in Japan: "As a city, Vila-real isn't very big, but there's are unconditional supporters and Villarreal CF is loved by the town. It's really admirable. Personally, I love Cazorla. He's very technical, I only know him as a player, but I believe he's a great person too because he shows it with his behaviour on the pitch."