Overall, how has the start of the season gone for the Academy?
The installation of a boarding house for a slection of our young players at the new Villa Jaurès is being put in place, notably in relation to the series of shuttle buses we have running between the different sites and La Turbie and the Stade Louis II. Our coaches who are dedicated to the daily life of the Academy are more numerous now and they are doing an excellent job with our youngsters. In terms of the schooling, a new director has joined the club and she is settling in. Everything is taking shape. On a sporting level, the professional team giving us Filippo Sassi to become Academy fitness director has added another level of professionalism to our work with the kids. Our three youth teams have all begun their respective championships and the results are good, overall.
Let's start with the reserves that you coach and who are currently top of Group C in the CFA championship after six matches...
The first place doesn't mean much. Our main interest is to get as many points as possible as early as possible so that we can work calmly and effectively all season long. We didn't really know what to expect at the start. We have produced some real quality at home and lost just once, against Mont-de-Marsan, which I hope will serve as a lesson for the rest of the season. A fair few of the youngsters from the U19 side are making the step up and they are adapting pretty well. It's never easy to step up from junior to senior football, so that is the real positive so far this season with this team.
For the U19s, it's also been a positive start, despite to narrow losses at home to Montpellier and Saint-Etienne…
If we had been a bit tougher in defence, we wouldn't have lost those matches that were very even contests, but they didn't go our way. In this team there are several players that played in the U19 last season, as well as a few U17 who have stepped up a level, such as Prohouly, Mbae, Muyumba, Duhamel and Thiam. They are a quality side that will keep getting stronger as the season goes on under the guidance of Manuel Dos Santos.
And a word on the U17, coached by Bruno Irles?
The U17s are, for the most part, young kids that have just joined the Academy, and they need a little time to adapt. Especially since this season there are two boys born in 1999, that is to say, just 14 years old. It's the first year that we have accepted such young kids and we are very careful monitoring their evolution. In the U17 category, the results are not the priority. The important thing for them is ensuring the switch from family life to life at the Academy happens as naturally as possible. We are giving the kids at least a semester to adapt to their new life. Despite all that, the results since the start of the season have been very good.