French Arms: Institut National du Football de Clairefontaine

French Arms: Institut National du Football de Clairefontaine

Several years ago, France was not a strong enough country to be reckoned with in the international football scene. In contrast to now that is already considered a giant of world football. From the 1950s to the 1970s France was just an ordinary European country with mediocre achievements.

In the world cup competition, France's best score before the 1990s was winning third place in the 1958 and 1986 World Cups. Especially in the championships between European countries, this is more concerning. From 1964 to 1980 France did not even qualify for the finals, but they managed to become champions in the 1984 edition. That was because of Michael Platini's brilliance.

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Based on poor achievements on the world football scene, the French Football Federation (FFF) finally took the initiative to form a football academy along with facilities and a training center for the French national team to catch up with their neighboring countries.

French Arms: Institut National du Football de Clairefontaine
Source: Marking The Spot

History of Clairefontaine

The FFF president at the time, Fernand Sastre together with Stefan Kovacs, former France coach, initiated this idea. Kovacs is the only French coach who is not a French citizen. He is Romanian. Kovacs' own idea was inspired by the communist training center in his area

So they both agreed to build a football academy and training center called the Institut national du football de Clairefontaine in 1985. This training center was completed in 1988 and began operating. The development is located on 56 hectares of land located in the middle of the Rambouillet forest 50 km southwest of Paris.

Apart from being designated as a training center for the French national team at all ages, Clairefontaine also has an academy for ages 13-15. However, this academy has an interesting condition. S

because they will only take 23 children each season. In addition, children who register also live or play around the Île-de-France, Seine-Maritime or Eure areas. The players trained at Clairefontaine from Sunday to Friday evening before heading off to play for their local club at the weekend.

At Clairefontaine there are various facilities to support the national team players while training as well as the academy players who are there. There are several high standard fields, star hotels, fitness rooms, health centers to recreational areas available there.

What's interesting about this recreation area is that there is a champion in itself. There is Pogba who is adept at playing Playstation as well as the king of ping pong there. There is also captain Lloris who is a master of billiards. In essence, all kinds of personal needs are there, even a barber is there!

Clairefontaine Curriculum

French Football does not have a patent playing philosophy like Spain, the Netherlands to Italy. They, through Clairefontaine, prefer to build and develop the talents of their players through their individual abilities by using the basic 4-3-3 tactics scheme.

The development of individual abilities is not only about all tactics. There they are also taught for self-development so that they are not only proficient in tactics, but also technically they are taught so that they can play various roles on the field.

The individual qualities that are the main food for academy players are; able to move as quickly as possible, improve the ability of his weakest leg and be able to make the right decisions on the field.

French Arms: Institut National du Football de Clairefontaine
World Cup trophy replica and two stars at INF Clairefontaine | Source: TheStar

In the first year, those who train there will focus on foot skills with the ball as well as individual development. Next, they are directed to the structure of play and awareness when playing, which then tries a small field. After everything is successful, they can only try to play on a wide field.

In addition, there is also such a thing as a test or test. The test includes three things, psychological, medical and physical. Psychological tests relate to their personality both later when he is on the field and off the field. This aims to shape the mental players.

While medical tests were carried out to see if there were problems with their injuries, they also examined their eyes and teeth. As well as physical tests to see their physical abilities such as VO2 Max and so on.

Until now, the curriculum used at Clairefontaine has been widely adopted by several academies, for example La Masia who came to study directly. Or the British who started to imitate by building St. The George Park National Football Center is the training camp for the England national team.

Results from Clairefontaine

Michael Cox in his book Zonal Marking says that there are two ideological camps of the French game, one that emphasizes physical ability and hard work, the other emphasizes technique and playing style.

Cox's words reflected when France became World Cup champion 2018. At that time double pivots they are N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. They both have different game ideologies like what Cox wrote in his book. However, it was this difference that ultimately led them to win the championship.

Until now, many achievements have been made by France since the existence of Clairefontaine. Starting with being World Cup champion 1998 for the first time, the 2000 European Cup, the 2001 and 2003 Confederations Cup, the 2018 World Cup and the 2021 UEFA Nations League. runner-up 2006 World Cup and 2016 Euro Cup.

From the player products that are produced, Clairefontaine is no joke. There are well-known names such as Thierry Henry, Nicholas Anelka, Louis Saha, William Gallas, Hatem Ben Arfa, Dimitri Payet, N'Golo Kante, and most recently, Kylian Mbappe.

French Arms: Institut National du Football de Clairefontaine
Source: FIFA

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Now Clairefontaine is arguably one of the best training centers in the world, especially with their academy that continues to exist. All kinds of technology and facilities there will always be developed in line with the times that occur.

Of course there is great hope that the golden generation from France will always exist and will never die as long as Clairefontaine still exists in coaching talented players in France.

Adieu!

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