23 Oct 2023

As the dust settles on another successful Aspire Academy Global Summit delegates and visitors have returned to their organisations with plenty of ideas to implement thanks to the discussions held at the two-day event.

The ninth edition of the Aspire Academy Global Summit was held in collaboration with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) inside the iconic Stadio Olimpico in the Italian capital Rome.

More than 300 people attended the event including the members of the Aspire in the World Fellows programme that includes more than 50 footballing organisations from around the globe including some of the world's top clubs, federations, and leagues.  

As well as the topics explored in workshops and roundtables the attendees were treated to insights from several sporting stars. 

Special guest, former Spain, Real Madrid and Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui, delivered this year’s opening Master Class and that was followed by Star Chat sessions featuring Italian football icons, Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi and former Juve captain Alessandro Del Piero.

The highlight of the Summit’s Gala Dinner was an enthralling talk with joint Olympic high jump gold medallists Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Aspire Academy graduate Mutaz Barshim.

On the second day, the Star Chats were with Lille’s Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca and former Argentina international Javier Zanetti.

In between listening to the sporting icons, the participants spent time exchanging ideas and offering tips on three main subjects:

  • Lifestyle and players’ performance: the invisible training
  • Enhancing team performance: the individual approach
  • Scouting the staff: matching competencies with organisational demands


Julen Lopetegui outlined a few of the things that he has learnt so far during his coaching career that no doubt will be taken on board by those at the summit. “You don’t treat all players equally as each one has their own needs and personality – for example, if a player has a big ego then you need to put that to good use rather than trying to dampen it,” he explained. 

Simone Inzaghi, who spent five years at the Stadio Olimpico when he was the coach of Lazio, also offered some pertinent advice to everyone working in football. “Leadership is something that you earn and gain from the players,” he said. “It takes effort and is not something that you are simply given because of your job title.”

Alessandro Del Piero, who currently works on Italian TV, is also taking his coaching licences and has a firm idea of what he believes makes the best coaches. “If I’m the head of an academy I am not looking to employ coaches whose only aim is to win matches at all costs but ones who are looking at ways to improve the players,” he insisted. "Also I want younger players to ask questions, I urge my own kids to ask coaches if things go wrong. I must admit I regret not asking more when I was a player – I was too shy.”

An enthralling look into the lives of Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim and their enduring friendship, which captured the imagination of the world when they chose to be joint Olympic gold medallists at the Tokyo Games, proved that inspiration and ideas can come from other sports. “I grew up with the mentality of knowing that my biggest driver is myself. I look at all the things that can make me better, including my competitors. Gianmarco is not really my target - my target is actually the bar and jumping high,” Mutaz Barshim said.

For his part, Gianmarco Tamberi talked about the importance of resilience as the two athletes paid tribute to each other for helping the other to recover from major injuries. 

On day two Paulo Fonseca, who has coached in Italy, Ukraine, Portugal, and France shared lessons he learnt from working in various championships. “It is important to feel the players believe in you and realise you are there to help them improve,” he said. “My teams must have the freedom to express themselves and not just aim to win but do it with style.”

The final Star Chat of the Global Summit was with Javier Zanetti, who won five Series A titles, four Coppa Italias and the European Champions League with Inter Milan. "I would like to offer aspiring young athletes one piece of advice: never relinquish your dreams, be willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of your goals, and wholeheartedly follow your passion,” he said.


The area of ‘Lifestyle and players’ performance: the invisible training’ raised some interesting questions that the delegates will be raising on their return to their organisations around the world.

For example, when society changes its attitudes how do our institutions change – are we able to adapt? And how can we blend parent and staff education along with player development?

Some of the suggestions raised following discussions on ‘Enhancing team performance: the individual approach’ will no doubt be implemented at some of the organisations that attended the Global Summit.

For instance, the fact that individualising player development is not always about doing more, but in some cases doing less can help in the recovery and player development.

Clubs were urged to better understand the individual aspects of players to develop an appropriate vision for the club and team. The coach should focus on building on the strongest points of the individual in order to deliver on the success of the first team, and not just think about winning the matches on the weekend. 

In the area of 'Scouting the Staff: Aligning Competences with Organizational Demands' the conversation revolved around hiring staff that fit the club’s philosophy, how to retain staff and drive positive transformation.

Several of those involved pointed out that while qualifications and CVs can give you an idea about a candidate seeing them in action can often tell you even more. The Technical Director of Aspire Academy's Football Department, Edorta Murua added: “We must invest in our young players and that includes hiring the coaches who are looking to not only improve themselves but also the talent they work with.”

In 2024 the Aspire Academy Global Summit will celebrate its 10th anniversary which promises to be an event not to miss, the venue and dates will be announced in due course.

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