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Guadalajara Coaching Education Trip: Part 4

GUADALAJARA – After a week packed full of learning from some of the best and brightest minds Mexico has to offer, the 24 coaches from NorCal Premier Soccer and SOCAL Soccer League had two full final days to soak in the culture by attending multiple matches and listening to a last couple of lectures.

Saturday began with the undercard, a U20 matchup between rivals Chivas de Guadalajara and Club America.

All youth teams for clubs in Liga MX are on the same schedule for matches so that ahead of that night’s first team game between the historically two largest teams in the country, there were U20 and U18 contests as well.

And the rivalry ran deep, with more than a thousand fans packing Chivas’ Verde Valle complex to watch a 1-1 draw in the U20 match and a 2-1 home victory for the U18s.

Following the former, the two dozen from California were invited into a presentation room for a rundown on Guadalajara’s scouting infrastructure delivered by Head of Scouting, Analysis, and Innovation David Munoz.

According to Munoz, Chivas employs four full time pro scouts, and 35 unpaid volunteers in the area in order to maximize talent identification within the second largest metropolitan area in the country.

However, the vastness of Jalisco is hardly the only challenge that Munoz and his crew face – because they’re also in charge of in-game analysis, they frequently must come up with creative solutions when their team plays in stadiums without a good wifi connection.

To demonstrate the philosophy that he, and the rest of Chivas, employ to rise to the top, Munoz used a quote from Charles Darwin, who said that, “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that…is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

Part of those adaptations and adjustments for Chivas included using video analysis to help inform each week’s training process depending on the opponent.

“America is really good with the ball and it’s hard to get it from them so this week we trained without the ball and saw what we could do once we won it back,” Munoz said. “Analysis isn’t important if you don’t incorporate it into training. If you don’t, then it’s just information.”

Coming from FC Barcelona, Munoz hoped to help establish a trend of utilizing new technologies at Chivas in an effort to “inspire Mexico.”

“For me, it’s important to make a culture of video analysis in the younger ages,” he said. “If you don’t, it’s harder to implement with the adults. The younger players getting called up are more receptive to video analysis because it has become a habit.”

From there, the coaches were granted an audience with Chivas fitness coaches Jaume Bartres, Pedro Vatura, and Adrian Cruz before heading back to the hotel to prepare for El Super Clasico.

After spending two hours on the bus to travel just over 15 kilometers, the two dozen finally arrived at Mexico’s biggest rivalry game to watch as the visitors knocked off the hosts via a 4-2 scoreline in front of a packed house of more than 48,000.

The following night they would return to cap off the trip with a Liga MX Femenil match between Chivas and Monterrey, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The match was the sixth and final professional game of an 11 day trip that saw the 24 coaches also visit four different clubs and listen to more than a dozen lectures.

“The trip far exceeded my expectations,” said SOCAL Director of Special Programming Cris Gilmore, who also organized the trip. “The level of coaches representing Northern and Southern California and the level of scrutiny they brought inquiring deeply about the intricacies of Mexican football was so fascinating. We peeled numerous layers back to gain valuable information to bring back to our own environments.”

“And because many of our coaches have deep knowledge and understanding from a Mexican-American point of view, our hosts were often so impressed with our dedication to bettering ourselves and the sport by learning in their environment that they far exceeded the time we agreed to meet with them,” he added. “I often got the feeling that they were so much like us and wanted to be with us on this journey.”

“My goal is to continue our collaboration with NorCal and strengthen the bridge we are building to educate further our incredible coaches who dedicate so much time and energy in our soccer community,” Gilmore concluded. “We will continue these educational trips abroad and continue to bring great coaches to our region.”