The FC Porto youth academy
Curious about the youth academy, I’ve interviewed Morphy about it.
FC: How does a youngster in Portugal join FC Porto's youth academy?
M: From 5 to around 12, FC Porto makes drafts (captações), at the "Campo da constituição". It’s hosted around June/July.
Pupils go there, play and a few are selected to the youth teams. For older players, the only way is to shine is at some other club.
FC: At what age does the club start accepting players?
M: Around 5/6 at ‘as escolinhas’, meaning ‘the little schools’.
FC: How many different teams are there within the youth academy? Is it done by age or skill? How many players in the academy in total?
M: There are a lot of teams... for the kids; I would say some six teams.
Age is the main criteria, but a skillful player can play with the older boys. In total? Ummm... 500.
FC: Does the youth side get much interaction with the senior team?
M: Not really. Some B team player (u23) and junior (u19) are occasionally called to training.
FC: Does bringing in foreign youngsters, for example from Brazil, damage the prospects for the local players?
M: I think so, yes, particularly if they are not excellent players. In that case, it's just wasting a spot a local player could fill.
FC: How involved are parents in the whole development process within FC Porto's youth academy?
M: It varies. In Portugal, when it comes to parents, it's good if they don't cause trouble (protests with trainers, etc). Some parents are involved by helping with many little things (players transportation, etc).
FC: What about normal (academic) school, how is that worked in?
M: FC Porto pays for a private school or arranges for public school.
FC: Do the youth players get paid?
M: From u17 level yes, a standard u17 receives 100 euros per month. Then it goes up with the age group. But some already have professional contracts and earn more.
FC:Can you name a few players that you think are outstanding, that you think we might see in Porto's senior team soon?
M: Ivanildo, 20, is already on the A team. A great left winger.
On loan are Paulo Machado, midfielder, Vieirinha, right winger and Bruno Vale, goal-keeper. All great prospects.
On the B team, Helder Barbosa, left winger, has been training with the AA's. He’s a very talented left winger.
Others to watch are João Pedro, centre back, Nuno Coelho, midfielder, and Bruno Gama, an allround forward (can play on either wing or on the 10 spot).
On the u19 side, Castro, a midfielder, Rui Pedro, number 10, and Candeias, striker, are some of the many promising players. This team has finished second in 2002 u15 Nike Cup (a sort of youth World Cup) and has played in two high level tournaments (one was the Milk Cup) in the summer, reaching the semi finals in both, and beating Manchester United and Real Madrid along the way.