Italian giants Juventus’ first training camp in Scotland will take place in Westhill.
The Old Lady of Turin have Juventus Academies all over the world, with the aim to instil kids with the famous club’s values as well as giving them top-class coaching.
Now, thanks to youth coaches Paul Clelland and former Aberdeen winger Chris Clark, the Bianconeri will have a presence in the north-east, with their first Juventus Academy Scotland summer camp at Lawsondale in August.
Newburgh-based Paul explained how chance got the ball rolling on his Juve link-up.
He said: “I was out in Cyprus two years ago on holiday, in Pathos, and went running past the municipal stadium.
“On the training pitch there were a load of kids in black and white kits.
“I went down and got chatting to an ex-pat guy and noticed there was a lot of Juventus branding round the pitch.
“I said: ‘What’s all this?’, and he said: ‘It’s Juventus’ academy in Cyprus.’
“I stayed and watched for a bit and the training was fantastic, the kids all looked really happy.
“And then at the end of training I got introduced to the head coach – a Serbian ex-professional who had moved to Cyprus to play football.
“He’d become a manager for a number of clubs, a UEFA pro-licence coach.
“He was a really friendly and engaging guy, and he asked if my little boy wanted to come down and play. He went down for five nights and absolutely loved it.”
At the end of son Archie’s week training in Cyprus, level-two, C-licence children’s award coach Paul also met Juventus’ area manager for Europe, who told Paul “keep in touch”.
Paul added: “To cut a long story short, my little boy got the chance to go out to Turin with the Cyprus guys and do a week’s training at Juventus’ academy in Cantalupa, played two matches and went to a game and museum/ stadium tour.
“I came back from that thinking it was something we should be doing in Scotland.
“My kid got to play with kids of different nationalities, different types of coaching, just broadening his horizons.”
Paul was so struck by the week in Turin, as well as another trip to Cyprus in October, he says he couldn’t believe no one had taken steps to set up a Juventus Academy in Scotland.
He said: “What I liked about it was there was as much emphasis on social and emotional training as there was on technical skills as a footballer.
“Juventus’ motto is ‘a great kid makes a great footballer’.”
Cristiano Ronaldo signing for Juve last summer has boosted the club’s already-huge profile and, in January, Juventus Academy Sussex and London launched.
Paul and his coaching colleagues, including Clark, decided their outpost would be next.
He said: “We decided to go for it and signed a contract with Juventus four weeks ago.
“We’ve just being going about putting the infrastructure in place.
“First of all, we’ll do a summer camp and see how it goes.
“It’s a five-day camp. Three guys come over from Turin, from Juventus, and lead the camp with the support of local coaches.
“It’s for 90 kids from eight to 14 years old.”
There has already been plenty of interest, with Juventus Academy Scotland’s website launching a few days ago.
For more information, visit https://jacademy.juventus.com/en/camps/scotland/