Life as a young trainee at Valencia's academy

Dario Serra (bottom right) and his VCF Academy team-mates relaxing in one of the rooms at the Ciutat Esportiva. Some 40 trainees who are from outside the city live on campus, with two or three players sharing a room. The live-in VCF Academy players g
Dario Serra (bottom right) and his VCF Academy team-mates relaxing in one of the rooms at the Ciutat Esportiva. Some 40 trainees who are from outside the city live on campus, with two or three players sharing a room. PHOTOS: VALENCIA CF
Dario Serra (bottom right) and his VCF Academy team-mates relaxing in one of the rooms at the Ciutat Esportiva. Some 40 trainees who are from outside the city live on campus, with two or three players sharing a room. The live-in VCF Academy players g
The live-in VCF Academy players get supervised studying time for an hour after school, when they are guided by tutors hired by the club. PHOTOS: VALENCIA CF
Dario Serra (bottom right) and his VCF Academy team-mates relaxing in one of the rooms at the Ciutat Esportiva. Some 40 trainees who are from outside the city live on campus, with two or three players sharing a room. The live-in VCF Academy players g
The academy players having a snack at the cafeteria at the Ciutat Esportiva. The players' diets are tightly controlled, and they are weighed before every training session.PHOTOS: VALENCIA CF
Dario Serra (bottom right) and his VCF Academy team-mates relaxing in one of the rooms at the Ciutat Esportiva. Some 40 trainees who are from outside the city live on campus, with two or three players sharing a room. The live-in VCF Academy players g
Valencia youth midfielder Alejandro Olmedo (in black) in action at the JSSL Professional Academy 7s tournament against Manchester United at the Padang on April 28.PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Football and studies go hand in hand, with much focus on life skills, fitness and discipline

Dario Serra was on a 15-hour flight to Singapore two weeks ago but, instead of catching the latest movies via the in-flight entertainment system, the 15-year-old and his 11 friends were revising their schoolwork.

The studying continued in their rooms at the Carlton Hotel, interspersed with football matches, training and field trips to nearby tourist spots such as Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2018, with the headline 'Life as a young trainee at Valencia's academy'. Print Edition | Subscribe