Interview 31 March 2017

Jose Portoles, the head Methodist in the children and youth academy “Ludogorets”: The football gene is inside Bulgarian children, and we must bring it out and develop it

The head Methodist of the Ludogorets academy Jose Portoles gave an interview for the club’s official website. - Mr. Portoles, the competitors of...

Hose Portoles about PFC Ludogorets's academy

 The head Methodist of the Ludogorets academy Jose Portoles gave an interview for the club’s official website.

- Mr. Portoles, the competitors of Ludogorets have some accusations stating that there is no interest in developing young Bulgarian players, so what is really the club’s strategy?
- This is common in every country with such competition. Everybody wants to have great players and naturally a new club, which is established quickly and reaches a high level fast, will be considered a threat. This is why people must know that the planning that we make here at Ludogorets is based on company strategy. This means it’s all about achieving targets which really benefit the club. We seek the best results for the shortest time possible and that’s why we need high-level players, better than those already known in Bulgaria. The role of the foreign players is for that level to be actually reached not only in the Bulgarian championship, but in Europe as well, and you can see it is happening. Actually, football is the only type of project where you start from top to bottom, this is the process Ludogorets keeps up to. First we must achieve success with the main team, and afterwards we will gradually develop our children and youth academy. The city is small and this fact does not help, because there aren’t enough children of all ages, as it is in Sofia or Plovdiv. This is why we seek talents from every part of the country and the strategy is to work with them with a strive to create a higher quality process in building those talents.  Our job is to increase their potential to a maximum level. If we say that this potential is measured as 100, our goal is to reach to this number and less. It is wrong to expect that tomorrow there will already be full of complete football stars, but I am convinced that we can develop players who will be eligible for the main team in 7, 8 or 10 years.

- Does this mean that the correct way is to build “the roof” first – the main team, and after that “the foundation” – the academy?
- The academy is the part that will eventually finish “the construction”, the Ludogorets “building”. Right now the main team is really the roof. This happens in all football clubs. The great game with over a hundred years of history did not start with relying on academies. They have been introduced when people realized the need to do so. Economically speaking it is better to have players and to develop them than buying absolutely everyone.

- You have worked for big clubs. What methods have you been using there and intend to implement in your work here?
- I have worked in ten different countries and always for serious teams, and therefore I learned quite a lot everywhere I’ve been. Now I will pour that knowledge here. The most important thing I have learned is something really simple and everyone should understand it – we work with children, not real players. We cannot treat them as adults. The parents and relatives must understand this, as well as the society. That why we will evade many problems, because expecting too much from the youth is a burden on them and sometimes it is demotivating them. All the children who start playing football do not leave aside the other typical kids’ activities – they are simply being kids 24 hours a day, the same way the parents are parents for 24 hours a day. When parents go watch their sons play football, they must never act as fans or hooligans, God forbid. The best favor they can do for the kids is to simply sit back, talk with friends and occasionally keep an eye on the game.

- So parents sometimes are pretty much an obstacle?
- I know they do not mean any harm or to distract them, but that’s the result in most cases. They have to understand that their attempts to coach and criticize are causing stress. There is enough data worldwide about youngsters who have abandoned football at the earliest age when they can choose for themselves. It is a clear signal that something is not done right.

- Which is more important for children who play football – doing it with pleasure or the ambition to win?
- The results of a child’s performance will be notably positive when there are certain tasks and goals ahead. But winning at all costs is something we do not support here. We deliberate all of our coaches from the demand to win, but they know well enough that by achieving our targets they will eventually get the desired results.

- Are there enough talented kids in Bulgaria who can one day guarantee the brighter football future of the country?
- There have always been great football players in Bulgaria. Historically speaking, it is the truth. A gene cannot be replaced in 30 years, for this to happen it would take 50 000 years or more. This football gene is here, inside the Bulgarian children. The problem is that we have to change the way it will manifest, it has to be different from the old methods. This is our hope and our idea. We believe in our players and want them to believe in themselves, but we have to be patient and apply modern methods in order for them to develop. We believe in the future and that more and more kids will become eligible for the main team.

- Do you believe in the success of the “Ludogorets” project?
- Of course I do, otherwise I would not be here. I have left some of the previous clubs because I did not have the chance to work according to my standards. I can leave very quickly when I do not have the appropriate working conditions. Here I feel great, though. I have known the management for six years now and we had this clear idea that we need a modern club base with all the necessary conditions. This base has the best facilities possible, with some unique features on a global scale.

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League table efbet League, 7th round
1. Ludogorets 1945 16
2. Lokomotiv (Plovdiv) 15
3. Beroe (St. Zagora) 14
4. CSKA 12
5. Arda (Kardzhali) 12
6. Levski (Sofia) 10
7. Botev (Vratsa) 10
8. Tsarsko selo 9
9. CSKA 1948 9
10. Botev (Plovdiv) 8
11. Cherno more (Varna) 8
12. Montana 8
13. Slavia (Sofia) 1
14. Etar (Veliko Tarnovo) 0

 
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