On the 19th of March, the ECA Youth Task Force visited the "Centre technique et sportif de la Gaillette", the training centre of ECA Member Racing Club de Lens.
The centre, which is fully owned by the club and was inaugurated in 2002, comprises training facilities for the professional team and a coaching centre for youth players.
With 12 pitches spread over an area of 22 hectares and accommodation facilities for more than 100 youth players it offers perfect training conditions to all players. Currently, more than 180 players are training in "La Gaillette". For the president of RC Lens, Mr Gervais Martel, the aim of the academy is to offer an academy that raises "football players and men". RC Lens is strongly committed to invest into youth football despite the negative sportive trend of the first professional team.
The information gathered during this visit will form part of the first ECA Youth Academy Benchmarking Guide, which is set to be published in Autumn 2012. The aim of this benchmarking guide is to provide advice and share experiences from youth development strategies in order to improve the functioning of club academies. It will also help improve ECA knowledge relating to youth academies and allow members to learn from each other by offering examples of best practice. The ECA Youth Task Force already visited the youth academies of FC Internazionale Milano, Arsenal FC, NK Dinamo Zagreb, R. Standard de Liège, FC Levadia Tallinn, FC Bayern München and Sporting Clube de Portugal. The next field visit is set to take place at FC Ajax Amsterdam.