By John Varlas – Daily Memphian Permalink:

In the soccer world, few clubs carry the gravitas of Juventus.

The Turin-based giants — affectionately known as la vecchia signora, which translated means ‘the old lady’ — have won 36 scudettos (league championships) and 14 Italian Cups, both more than any other club.

Additionally, they’ve been crowned champions of Europe on two occasions. Some of the most famous players in the world — Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane among them — have worn the club’s distinctive black-and-white striped shirt.

Think New York Yankees baseball crossed with Notre Dame football; unparalleled historical success combined with a mythology of sorts.

So why are a pair of Juventus coaches spending their week at Arlington High of all places?

They’re spreading the club’s gospel while teaching players how to play ‘the Juve way.’

Wednesday marked the halfway point of Arlington’s Juventus Academy Summer ID camp for players aged 8 through 16. Inside the Tigers’ stuffy indoor facility, two youth coaches — Giuseppe Donato and Filippo Ciurlia — put campers through their paces, proving hands-on instruction in the finer points of the game and punctuating huddles with cheers of “uno, due, tre, Juve!”

It’s one of several such camps the club conducts in the United States and around the world in a given year and the second straight time Arlington has played host. Donato, a former goalkeeper in his home country, believes it’s all worthwhile as Juventus looks to expand its global brand.

“We have a lot of academies here in the USA,” he said.

“Our philosophy is building men before players. Not just for the training but also our methodology … physical, technical and psychological. For us, it’s important (to) grow relationships with the players. We like working with these kids.”

And if it leads to a player joining Juventus at some point, well, that would be a pleasant bonus. Arlington coach Duncan Nicol said one of his current players, Rowan Craven, was invited to train in Italy after last year’s camp.

Nicol was instrumental in helping bring Juve to Arlington too. One of his former college roommates happens to work for the club’s corporate sponsor in the States.

“For them, it’s a couple of things,” Nicol said. “One, their marketability; (England’s) Premier League is the big thing on TV right now, and Serie A (the Italian top flight) is not as big. So they’re trying to get their footprint in the United States. Sponsorships, memorabilia.

“And every now and then, they’re getting a chance to scout some kids.”

The benefit to Arlington is important as well.

“Typically, the Houstons and the Colliervilles go and do these fun trips,” Nicol said.

“We wanted something to kind of get us out there, to say Arlington is a destination to play soccer as well. The opportunity came into my lap, and we’ve been running with it. And they’ve been fantastic.”

In all areas.

On Wednesday, the players trained in Juve kit just like the one Ronaldo and Zidane wore. Even the language barrier didn’t seem to be much of an issue. The language of soccer transcends all.

“I had a parent before the week message me,” Nicol said. “‘What’s it going to be like? Are the coaches going to be good? Will we be able to understand them?’ She texted me after the first day, and all she said was, ‘They had an amazing time.’”

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