Teenage players coming from India and Canada reflect on the differences between football in Europe and their home countries and why joining a football academy is the right choice for young players.
Mariano Navarro: Passion, more than anything. I’ve been playing football since I a was 4; it’s something I always wanted to do and what brought me to Almería.
You’ve trained in Canada, in Argentina and now you’re in Spain. What’s the difference between the playing style in these places?
Mariano: It’s completely different. In Canada and Argentina, the games are more physical and there’s a lot of passion in Argentina. The game in Spain is very quick, the pace is very different and so is the style of the game. I like it here.
Was it hard to adapt?
Mariano. Yes, in the beginning, but you learn to adapt quicker as you get older. The hardest thing was the pace.
What would you advise young players in America to do in order to get prepared for the European style of football?
Mariano: I suggest they work on qualities such as their technical abilities and footwork and to start thinking faster because the players think faster here. Also, watching a lot of European football helps since the majority teams in Spain, for instance, play a similar possession-based game.
Can you comment on any differences in the style of training in America versus Europe?
Mariano: In my experience, in Argentina they place greater focus on the physical aspect and although the training sessions in Spain might be shorter, everything is fast paced drill to drill. Also, it’s not as aggressive and players respect each other a bit more.
What do you expect from training in Almeria’s academy?
Mariano: I want to learn and gain experience. Not every player wants to pay to play, but basically I just want to learn as much as I can.
What’s your view on MLS since you’re originally from Toronto? Is it developing?
Mariano: It is developing and there is a big difference since I starting watching it years ago. It’s much more accessible now.
Which European teams are the most popular in North America?
Mariano: It’s the same as in Europe: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich…
Who’s you favourite player in your position?
Ishan Pandita: When I was 16, I moved to Madrid for a year and played there. A friend of mine then helped me come in contact with Almeria and after a couple of talks, I arrived in Almeria in November 2015.
Where do you see yourself 3 years from now?
Ishan: Playing in a top division team – Spanish or English.
How popular is football in India?
Ishan: It’s growing a lot with ISL (Indian Super League). We have a good level now and a lot of money. The attendance (per game) gets up to 50, 60 thousand people and matches are also broadcasted on television.
What ‘s the biggest difference between football in India and in Spain?
Ishan: There’s not much of a difference anymore. Kalu Uche, who is now playing for Almeria in Segunda Division, used to play in ISL so I don’t think the levels are that far off.
Was it hard to adapt to Spanish football when you arrived to Spain?
Ishan: When I first came to Madrid it was obviously difficult. The technical level in Spain is very high. Coming to Almeria was a bit easier after spending a year in Madrid.
What’s the most important quality for a striker in you opinion?
Ishan: Technical abilities, strength and knowing when to move – basically assessing the whole game. It’s important to use your brain and play smart. Being calm and composed in front of goal is important too.
What’s your advice to players outside of Europe? Should they join academies and pay to train with the best?
Ishan: I think it’s better to pay to train in Spain than being in India, because the level of playing is much higher in Spain.
Who’s your favourite player?
Ishan: I like Luis Suarez. Also Neymar, Sturridge and Coutinho.