However, a recent trip to Brazil, where the Academy’s U13s and U16s took part in the inaugural Cruzeiro Academy International Cup 2018, with both teams reaching the semi-finals, taught them that there is a whole different side to football than just winning.
And a side that they may never had the chance to experience had they not been invited to take part in that tournament.
BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy Head Coach Jonathas Candido explained in a recent interview with The Phuket News that the BISP academy teams were the only international teams out of 10 per age group that had been invited to play the tournament, the others all hailing from Brazil.
But Candido also explained that although he was proud and happy that his sides managed to reach the semi-finals of the tournament, it was the experience and knowledge his players gained during the trip which was just as, if not more, beneficial as taking part.
“The level of football our teams were up against in this tournament and the challenge they faced will definitely put them at a different stage as a footballer and all of the players have returned to Phuket different players to when they left.
“Our main aim was to give our guys some exposure to playing in a serious competition, and that certainly worked as they have come back to Phuket with a different idea to playing football.
“They have now also seen the level that they need to reach to become a professional footballer, and I saw in the first training session we held back in Phuket the difference in their mentality from before and after the tournament,” Candido said.
“This change for me was phenomenal, and I have already seen the positives come out in training,” he added.
But in addition to the football, another aspect where the players gained experience and knowledge was general life skills.
“Being in Brazil the boys got to see and learn about a different country and culture. They learnt about Brazilian food, got to speak to Brazilian people and saw how they lived. This cultural experience is something that will stay with them forever and it was a very big and strong point of this trip.”
But another major part of the trip was that the players got to experience living a football player’s life.
Candido explained, “Players from the Cruzeiro Esporte Clube academy in Brazil are trained and housed at Cruzeiro’s Toca da Raposa 1 Training Center, one of the best youth training centres in Brazil. Basically this means this centre is their home for the entire time they are involved with the academy and our players stayed in a hotel within this complex.
“During their time at the complex our players lived exactly the same way as those who are in the main academy. They ate together, they all ate the same food, they all went to bed at the same time, they trained at regular times and rested at regular times, this is the life of a footballer and our boys got to experience this.
“And it should be pointed out that bar training and playing games, which obviously differs between the academy and club, this mirrors the life of a professional Cruzeiro Esporte Clube player.”
As is the case with almost all professional football clubs, Cruzeiro have their own in-house nutritionists and food is another aspect of the trip which the players have brought back home with them.
“One of the main factors when it comes to being a professional footballer is the nutrition and our players also got to experience that on the trip. And to be honest they really liked it,” Candido explained.
“They liked the idea of times being set for when they should eat, the amount of food they should eat and that no rubbish food is allowed. When you are playing at that level there is no food allowed from outside, you are only able to eat what food is on offer within the complex, you cannot order food from outside.
“What people have to realise is that these clubs invest a lot of money in these young players and they need to see the results, and much of those results come from nutrition,” he said.
“I think our boys now understand more that they need to take care of themselves and their diets. We obviously don’t expect that to make that dramatic change at this stage, but we believe that if they start to change small points they will see the benefits of that.”
But these are not the only positive aspects to come out of the trip, there was an even bigger surprise, and Candido explained that two players from the BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy were invited to represent the Cruzeiro Esporte Clube U14s in an international competition in China.
“It delights me that we had two players – Jonah Duchowny and Siam Yapp – invited to play for the main academy club at the Codion Cup, which was played in Haimen, China, from April 29-May 5.
“This is the first time that Cruzeiro Esporte Clube has allowed players from outside of the main academy to join them to play in a tournament. So for these two players it is already something huge that they have been invited to join the main academy and play with them,” he said.
“But this just goes to show that the players we are developing here have quality to be up there with the best,” he added.