Deportivo Alavés, NK Istra 1961 and LaLiga successfully celebrated the ‘Branko Bubić Football Days’
Deportivo Alavés, NK Istra 1961, and LaLiga joined forces to hold the “Branko Bubić Football Days”, with the aim of making a positive impact on the grassroots community in Istria. The days were named in honour and memory of Branko Bubić, a football legend in the region, who worked for more than 50 years in the service of the club NK Istra 1961, first as a footballer and then within its sporting structure.
During the press conference held by NK Istra 1961, Deportivo Alavés and LaLiga, the institutions were able to explain the origin of the project, as well as its objectives. Branko Devide Vincenti, President of NK Istra 1961, wanted to remember the figure of Branko Bubić: “We organise this event in honour of the legend of our club and Istrian football, Branko Bubić, who left a deep mark on our club. This event is held in collaboration with LaLiga and Deportivo Alavés, for which we are grateful. Our intention is to make this event a tradition“.
On behalf of LaLiga, Jesús Pizarro, delegate for Croatia, explained the reasons for the implementation and collaboration of the project: “From LaLiga, as part of our internationalisation strategy, we want to be closer to the fans in Croatia. The management of this project together with the Baskonia – Alavés Group and its Croatian club, NK Istra, is undoubtedly a great opportunity for LaLiga to develop new activities with a positive impact on the Croatian grassroots football community. We hope that next season we can continue and improve this first edition“.
Alberto Fernández, Communication Director of the Baskonia-Alavés Group, added: “For us at the Baskonia-Alavés Group it is very important that we have been able to achieve this cooperation. Activities like this help us to achieve more international visibility, and especially, to have a positive impact on the development of young players in this region. We would like to continue working on this project and develop it further every year”.
The workshop consisted of two days, with a training session on Friday 14 April. During the morning of the first day, Deportivo Alavés coach Fernando Iriarte and LaLiga coach Carlos Casal held a clinic for around 80 U12 players from the Istria region, with the support of local coaches from NK Istra 1961. In the afternoon session, masterclasses were offered by coaches from NK Istra 1961, Deportivo Alavés, and LaLiga, where near to 50 local coaches were able to attend to learn more about the methodology, environment and organisation of the academies. The training session ended with a round table where some of the topics previously covered in the master sessions were discussed.
Fernando Iriarte, Deportivo Alavés International Academy Program Director & Head Academy Coach said: “The main objective was to share the keys to the success of our training methodology through a training action aimed at Croatian football coaches. The collaboration was agile, derived from the fact that we share the same objectives. The partnership resulted in training sessions on the football field with NK Istra 1961 youth players, which allowed us to showcase the Spanish football training methodology adapted to the age and level of the players.”
Andro Fistonic, NK Istra 1961 Director of Development detailed that: “The two entities were very satisfied by the new information they gained, while kids were extremly happy with recreational clinic and positive vibes from coach Fernando and Carlos. Afternoon magistral sessions are something new for this region and benefit of this educations will be seen in a long term. Feedback from local football schools and coaches was very positive.”
Carlos Casal, Football Projects Coordinator at LaLiga highlighted that: “The training sessions with the groups served to show our training methodology to the local coaching community while reinforcing the alliances between NK Istra 1961 and its partner clubs. Apart from their technical and physical features, the players showed a high degree of understanding of the game and assimilation of the tasks. Croatia is a country with a great football tradition, and we saw this reflected in the groups of players and coaches we interacted with.”
Finally, on Saturday 15, the first Branko Bubić Memorial Tournament took place, with the participation of the Slovenian club academies FC Domzale and FC Koper, as well as the Croatian academies HNK Gorica, HNK Rijeka, NK Lokomotiva and NK Istra 1961. The final match was played between NK Lokomotiva and NK Istra 1961, with NK Istra 1961 winning on penalties after a thrilling 1-1 draw.
To close the first edition of the Branko Bubić football days, medals were presented to all participants, as well as the champion trophy for the players of NK Istra 1961 by Branko Bubić’s son, Ivan Bubić. The best players also received a signed Deportivo Alavés squad shirt as well as a LaLiga ball, presented by NK Istra 1961 first team players Ante Erceg, Dario Marešić, and Mihael Rovis, as well as club legend Dario Ružić. The award for the best player of the tournament, presented by Branko Devide Vincenti, President of NK Istra 1961, means that the MVP winner will get to experience a week’s training at the Deportivo Alavés Academy and attend a first team match during the end of the season.
Thanks to the collaboration of the three institutions, it was possible to successfully complete the objectives set during the preparation of the project, sharing different ideas and methodologies in the areas of grassroots and talent development. NK Istra 1961, Deportivo Alavés and LaLiga will seek to continue this initiative next season, with the aim of providing it with continuity within the Croatian grassroots football scene.