Juventus Academy, European Style in Florida

With about 400 children, Juventus Academy has been developing a powerful program in Florida for the past 5 years. A couple of interviews with two of its referents, Stefano Ledda and Christian Driussi.

Text & Photos: Emmanuel Calderón

How did your relationship with Juventus start?
We represent Juventus in Florida and have partnered with the club during 4 years, now going into our 5th year. I started out this business with two other partners. We have around 400 kids with age groups between U-6 and U-15.

How different is it for kids to learn how to play soccer in Italy than in the U.S.?
In Italy, we play soccer on the streets every day. Here, there isn’t as much time for kids to be playing the sport. The only time they do play is when they are here, practicing with us.

What is your favorite thing about working with kids?
Being able to see their hard work and improvement from one week to another.

What has your professional career been like so far?
I played in the Italian third division. At the age of 35, I moved to the U.S.

Did you change your mind as you made the transition from player to coach?
It is a completely different approach. Soccer, in Italy, was very competitive. Now, I feel that my focus is to learn as many aspects and techniques to be able to teach the kids in the best way and as fast as possible.

What are your goals for the next season?
Hopefully, reach 500 kids in our club, and to continue teaching them about soccer and help them grow.

“We offer a European philosophy of coaching which is very good, where we don’t only focus on winning but on teaching them how to really play the game, the rules, and respect”

Stefano Ledda
Age: 41
Origin: Venice, Italy
Favorite team: Juventus
Favorite players growing up: Maradona, Totti, Ronaldo
Favorite food: Pasta

How did your relationship with the club begin?
In 2010, Stefano contacted me since he wanted to open up a soccer business. We had to decide if we wanted to create our own academy or to affiliate with someone else. We found out that Juventus is the best academy compared to other major clubs in Italy.
Are you in close contact with Juventus?
We are in continuous contact with the club. It is a very hands-on project where they want to know what we are doing, what our challenges and achievements are.
Ideally, would the goal be for players from the academy to eventually play for Juventus?
Yes, absolutely. There are different steps in the growth of an academy. We’re still in a very early stage, but even at this stage we already went to Italy twice. The kids experienced a different type of culture and were challenged to participate at international tournaments.

“I believe that soccer is also for the growth of a person when it comes to values, sacrifice, and working hard to achieve what you want.”

Christian Driussi
Age: 43
Origin: Pordenone, Italy
Favorite Food: Prosciutto, and gelato