The Inter youth system is a symbol of excellence in Italy and Europe. The trophies won in recent years and the number of players that it’s produced now playing in Serie A, Serie B and Europe’s top leagues pay testament to this. The name Internazionale has always evoked a need to go beyond the borders of Italy. Because of this, the Inter Academy project was born in 2008 and in ten years, it’s grown day by day. The individual is put before the footballer, this is the motto at the Suning Youth Development Centre in Milan and across the 18 countries where Inter Academy is currently active. There’s a high standard of training that stems directly from the Nerazzurri’s Italian development centres with a particular focus on the personal development of the children, their studies and social relationships.
It’s the same in Japan where the project began in 2012 and it now consists of four football schools and four elite teams with around 400 children aged between 6 and 14 involved. They’re followed by a team of 10 local coaches who are coordinated by one of the coaches from the Nerazzurri’s Italian Development Centres in Alessandro Zanato. Zanato took the place of Massimo Ciocci who developed the project from the start and the more attentive Inter fans will certainly remember him after he came through the system to score an unforgettable brace against Roma in the 1980s. Both Ciocci and then Zanato have linked up with the project’s sporting director Shoji Jo who was an iconic figure in Japanese football and he took part in the 1998 World Cup with his country. Javier Zanetti was also in attendance last February for the opening of the ELITE TRAINING CENTRE in Fuchu, Tokyo.
Next March, the Inter Academy Japan Elite Team will be in Italy for the first time in order to take part in the Accademia Inter Tournament at the Development Centre. Who knows if it will be like the last time a Japanese team was a guest of Inter Academy in Italy. They showed tenacity, a sense of organisation and then passion on the pitch. Then after the match, the changing rooms were left spotless to a general sense of disbelief. A lesson for football and beyond.