Rafael Garcia Becomes First Filipino Footballer in LaLiga Academy

Rafael Garcia Becomes First Filipino Footballer in LaLiga Academy

Rafael Garcia is getting the chance of a lifetime to train in of the top grassroots programs in Spain, LaLiga Academy.

Filipino footballers have been garnering the attention that they deserve on an international level, perhaps now more than ever, especially as the representatives in the country make waves in global competitions. And this extends even to the country’s youth players.

This year, the Philippines will have a representative in LaLiga Academy in Spain for the first time ever in the 2023/24 season!

LaLiga Academy is a grassroots project by Spain’s top football league that aims to enhance the development of young football players between the ages of 13 and 18, focusing on excellence and the integral development of their performance in both academics and sports.

In the upcoming season of LaLiga Academy, Rafael Garcia, a 16-year-old Filipino defender from Manila, will get the rare opportunity to take part in this exclusive training program at the ESC LaLiga & NBA Center in Madrid.

Rafael Garcia Becomes First Filipino Footballer in LaLiga Academy
Rafael Garcia training in the ESC LaLiga & NBA Center in Madrid. (Photo credit: LaLiga)
A platform to develop skill

Rafael Garcia is a talented young defender who can play as a center-back or right-back and has grown up on the field with reputable clubs. He trained with Makati FC, GOM Football Center of Excellence, Southampton Academy, and Stallion Laguna FC.

Now standing in front of an incredible opportunity to grow and develop as a player alongside one of, he is ready to take his experience to one of the best leagues in the world.

LaLiga Academy was the first annual program launched by LaLiga in Spain and launched in 2021 to promote global grassroots football.

“I love football because it teaches me how to work hard, how to work as part of a team, and, above all, about the passion of the game. It has a lot of values that I can transfer to my daily life. Football is a way of life. Everything you learn on the pitch you need off the pitch,” says the Filipino player, who was already able to train at the ESC LaLiga & NBA Centre during a few immersion days in April.

LaLiga Academy in Spain
Young football players training in LaLiga Academy. (Photo credit: LaLiga)
A platform to develop passion

As Rafael Garcia is about to join LaLiga Academy in Madrid, he will truly get a unique chance to develop his passion for the game.

The unique complex of the project now has a residence with a capacity of 450 people, two football fields, a gymnasium, a clinic, and an international school equipped with a library, laboratory, and study rooms. In this first season held in 2022/23, 36 players of 24 different nationalities joined the program and got to immerse in a life dedicated to sport and learning.

“What I like most about the ESC LaLiga & NBA Centre is probably the football pitch,” he shares.

“It’s where the magic of football happens. At LaLiga Academy I will be able to enjoy meeting new teammates from different countries. I will discover new cultures. I’m looking forward to playing football and studying with them.”

LaLiga Academy in Spain
Football players in LaLiga Academy get the opportunity to learn from the best. (Photo credit: LaLiga)

“The development of interest in football in Southeast Asia is evolving exponentially, especially in the Philippines, helping to reach new profiles of young players from all over the world,” Juan Florit, Head of LaLiga Football Department, shared.

“It is, therefore, a privilege for LaLiga Academy to have Rafael, who has shown great promise and we hope that next season we can help him develop a series of skills and values through a unique sporting and educational experience.”

Images courtesy of LaLiga.

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