search
top

Braga Club Visit

As coaches you can never stop learning in this game.  I feel it is essential to travel and exchange ideas on club visits.  More importantly we need to share our experiences as coaches.  Personally I don’t think we do this enough.  Coaching can be a very lonely job.  I love the European way of talking about football and coaching over a coffee or beer after sessions and games.  In the UK we don’t seem to do the same, unless we get paid for it!

During November I travelled to Braga, Portugal.  It was another great experience viewing a top European Club that is competing in the UEFA Champions League.  I would like to express my thanks for the kind invite & hospitality from Hugo and SC Braga.

Here is my report, enjoy!…

Braga

The northern city is the third biggest in Portugal, although it still keeps its charm and feel of a village.  The architecture of the buildings and Se Cathedral were beautiful.  The views over the city from the Bom Jesus do Monte was breath-taking.

We found the people to be very friendly.  The food was of a very high standard and very reasonable to eat out.  The Portuguese don’t do a quick sandwich but eat a large meal at lunch time as well as evening.  It is a very social thing to meet friends and family at lunch.  We enjoyed eating fresh bread and a great main course before finishing with coffee.  It was great to eat at leisure and talk about football.

SC Braga

Sporting Clube de Braga is commonly known as Sporting de Braga or simply Braga.  They play at the AXA Stadium which is also known as ‘The Quarry’ or the ‘Tool Box’.  This is due to the design where the stadium is built inside a Quarry with cables attaching the 2 main stands.  The ground was built for UEFA Euro 2004.

Braga had been known as Arsenal do Minho and changed their kits from green and white hoops to their Arsenal style red in 1935.  This is due to their coach, Jozsef Szabo, visiting and watching Arsenal at the old Highbury ground.

The emblem of Sporting de Braga is the city of Braga’s shield with Mother Mary and baby Jesus.  On the top of the emblem is the golden Mural Crown of Braga, with the name Sporting Clube de Braga on it.  Many fans of Braga have said that Mother Mary gives them luck.  The fans of Braga are known as Arsenalistas due to their team home kit that resembles that of English club Arsenal.

After finishing runners up in the Portuguese league during season 2009 / 2010 they qualified for the knock stages of the Champions League. They defeated Celtic and Sevilla to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League for the very first time.

Youth Set Up

Braga provides teams from 7 / 8 year olds and above.  The younger section of the Academy will train 3 times per week along with a match.  They concentrate heavily on ball mastery and 1 v 1 duels on defence and attack.

Players also receive homework so they really develop and are confident using both feet.  Braga will work closely with a number of other local clubs.  They play in a number of tournaments so they are playing against the best.

They will play small sided games on smaller pitches and with a smaller ball at the young age.  On the day we arrived into Portugal we got to watch their U13′s.  At this stage they play 11 v 11 on a full size pitch.  I suppose one of the problems is with the local leagues that they are forced to play in.  Some opposition are very poor.  Braga eased to a 19-0 victory on the day.

As the players get older they will start to train more.  The U19′s for example are in every day.  They also have players from all over the world.  The nationalities in the squad asides from Portuguese include; German, Greek, Brazilian along with a number of players on trial from Africa.

The U19′s train at the old Braga stadium which is a great facility.  The Spain National team used this as their base during Euro 2004.  They also play their home games here.  An athletic club also operate out of the same base.  During the week that we were in Braga there had been a lot of rain so the training was transferred to 2 full size 3G pitches that are at the same location.  They are Council run but a great facility to fall back on.

All the players training clothing is ready on their arrival in a basket set out in the changing room with their name on it.  They change before reporting to the pitch.  Each day we watched we were always greeted with a smile and hand shake.  I also found it nice that all the players always shake hands when they meet including players and children from different age groups.

1-on-1 Coaching

Another important role for Hugo Vicente as the Technical Director is to work with players 1-on-1 or in a small group.  He’ll concentrate on ball mastery, using both feet and a number of games and sessions that relate to the position they play.

This is something crucial to the overall development in each individual player’s game.  The players I personally work with 1-on-1 have found the benefits that it has added to their game and overall development.  You can find out more by following this link or watching video 1 or video 2.

Champions League

What a treat to watch a live game in this wonderful stadium.  Made even better that it was Arsenal in the Champions League!  To be a stone’s throw from the players during the warm up and to be part of the crowd was something else.

With the teams lined up, the Champions League music blasted out and all the home support held up Braga posters to really create a special atmosphere.  I got goose bumps; I knew something special was going to happen!

To see players like Theo Walcott, Denilson, Jack Wilshere, Rosicky, Bendtner and the great Cesc Fabregas in the flesh was a treat.  Although I must admit, Arsenal was very disappointing on the night.  Braga over all deserved their win and Nascimento Matheus scored two great goals – especially his second.

What a result from Braga, especially after being defeated 6-0 away to Arsenal earlier in the group.  I was surprised that it was not a sell out but those that came went home happy…apart from the travelling Arsenal supporters!  The Porto Manager also watched the game behind us.

Review

The hospitality that was shown to me and my colleague Daniel is hard to express in words.  Hugo, the club and the players were so welcoming.  SC Braga is such a family, friendly club.  Every staff member and player – from the young age of 7 – welcomed us with a smile and a hand shake.  This created such a positive experience as everyone was so approachable.  Especially in a day and age where at some clubs people and players feel they are above the normal person.

I also found all the youth players very confident and polite.  This is very much a European way but something I like to instil in my own children and kids I work with.  Manners and confidence cost nothing but create a lasting experience.

This experience will last with me and I will always have a real fondness and interest in SC Braga.  Watch our video review by clicking this link!

One Response to “Braga Club Visit”

  1. AFCNews says:

    I was extatic with the last Gunners match the other day, i hope we can keep the points coming and stay first in the premier league, Come on you reds!

Leave a Reply

top