As many Northern European leagues enter their mid-season winter breaks they tend to look towards the south of Spain as an ideal location to get in some much needed warm weather training.
Unlike the English Premier League, where playing throughout the winter and the Christmas period in particular is commonplace, most of our Northern European neighbours take a much needed break. This is done primarily to freshen the players and these countries seem to benefit greatly when it comes to the international summer tournaments like the European Championships and the World Cup.
Why warm weather training is a must
In fact, esteemed coaches such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Sven Goran Eriksson have frequently enthused about the idea of a winter break. But to no avail as the Premier League stick to tradition by insisting upon playing through the cold and frost of December and January.
This is practically impossible due to Snow and sub zero temperatures in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and some parts of Central Europe.
Nevertheless, some British teams, especially those who are eliminated early from the cup competitions, do decide to head south for some extra sun and reap the benefits of this later in the season.
It is a well-known fact that athletes gain a lot from the sun. The cold weather tightens your muscles and makes you more prone to injuries, which is one of the main reasons we ‘warm up’ before most forms of exercise.
In fact, many of these camps are exploited to help players during the recuperation from injury, often during the long road to recovery from a serious problem, such are the obvious positives to be drawn from exercising in these climes.
What Andalusia has to offer: More than just a camp
As a result, many of these club sides choose Andalusia due to its close proximity, easy accessibility and warmer winter climate.
Whilst in Andalusia, though, there is more than just the training on offer.
With Malaga less than an hour away from both Marbella and Estepona, the two most popular locations for warm weather football training, there are plenty of opportunities for the players to enjoy a spot of shopping, visit other beaches or sample the vibrancy that one of Andalusia’s principal cities offers in the evening.
The historic town of Ronda is also on the doorstep where the players can enjoy a truly fulfilling cultural experience, away from the stresses of the training pitch as the footballers and coaches seek to unwind.
It is one of Spain’s oldest cities dating back to the Neolithic age.
However, there are etchings on the walls of nearby caves suggesting an even more ancient period of time. Here you can see drawings that provide evidence of the Paleolithic age, which predates the Neolithic period. The most famous painting is located in Pileta’s cave, a must see for those who visit Ronda.
Its bridges are an archaeological, as well as historical, phenomena that are a joy to behold. It is little wonder that American artists Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles took residence here for many a summer to help get their creative juices flowing.
For the less energetic, Marbella and Estepona also offer plenty to do, with world-renowned restaurants and beaches to enjoy, as well as architecture to marvel at.
Marbella has a much-revered old town, in addition to its 24 beaches along 27 glorious kilometres of coastline.
With all this in mind, it is hardly surprising that this area has become a frequent escape for the rich and famous in recent years and is now one of the hottest spots in Europe.
No wonder many teams from Central and Northern Europe choose it as their destination for mid-season training.
“Last winter five teams came from places like Russia, Switzerland and Finland,” sales manager Joan Margeles at Hotel PYR, Puerto Banus, enthused.
“The economic performance for the HOTEL is very high, because they come as a party of about twenty to thirty people, with full board, and also make use of other services such as the massage room, laundry and Spa,” he added.
In addition, Andalusia is home to some of Spain’s most famous football teams such as FC Sevilla, Real Betis and FC Malaga, as well as the country’s first football club, Recreativo de Huelva. Founded on the 23rd of December in 1889 by British miners, Recreativo are steeped in history, and are an obvious attraction because of this.
Try the La Cala experience
If you are searching for somewhere to take your club why not try the La Cala training facility. It is a popular destination for teams looking for a football training camp for a variety of reasons.
With in excess of 320 days of sunshine per year, located 20 minutes to the east of Marbella, La Cala offers luxurious four star accommodation.
As well as specialised pitches, it also offers fitness facilities, a running circuit and a spa for the players to hone their wellbeing.
La Cala feel that one of its strongest points is their ability to make tailor made camps, depending on each team’s demands. This is done primarily due to detailed communication between them and the club, with a focus on precisely what the team’s objectives are well in advance.
This includes exactly what kind of facilities you require and whether you wish to have some friendly matches organised through their official UEFA Match Agent. Also, nutritional requests can be catered for alongside a medical support network.
It has hosted Champions League outfits such as FC Porto and Anderlecht, as well as Leeds United and the England Under 21 side in recent years.
Other parts of Spain and for all ages
Not only is Spain a dream location for senior professional football clubs but can be equally attractive to youth sides for similar reasons to their older counterparts.
The youngsters can get all the benefits that the seniors garner and can play against other schools in organised games, often sorted out by companies, including Sport Arabia Worldwide.
Sport Arabia are on hand to give any help where required and tend to focus more on the La Manga area, between Murcia and Almeria, in the south east of the peninsula.
Their clients include Borussia Dortmund, CSKA Moscow and Shaktar Donetsk, to name but a few.
An example itinerary includes a trip to the Camp Nou Stadium, home of FC Barcelona, and the world famous resort Port Aventura Theme Park.
What these places help facilitate is the perfect platform for small or large groups aligned with the necessary attention to detail required for trips of this nature. This is all aided and abetted by ideal weather conditions.
The opportunity to concentrate solely on training without the obvious distractions back home is obvious but also there are willing and experienced staff on hand. These often include physiotherapists and medical teams who are familiar with the conditions.
Feel the difference
If all this was not enough, then these trips can often been seen as a team bonding exercise before going on a spurt once returning home.
Of course, these football training camps are available all year round and can be equally beneficial as a pre-season exercise, prior to a long hard season ahead.
So whether it is a way to relax, recuperate, prepare or regenerate, a football training camp is a must for all clubs. Whether it is a youth team looking to grow or a professional side looking to enhance their chances of glory, book a football tour as part of your regime.
How to get there
Malaga is the nearest airport to both Marbella and Estepona, less than an hour away with shuttledirect, the easiest way to book airport transfers.
This airport, officially known as Malaga – Costa Del Sol Airport, is the third busiest in mainland Spain and has flight connections to over 60 countries worldwide.
Furthermore, it has a direct link to over one hundred cities on a daily basis, including all the main low-cost airlines.
The airport has seen a revamp in recent years to match the demand of incoming traffic and is now recognised as one of Europe’s principal airports. Within the confines of the airport you can find fine dining and a spot of shopping readily available to the millions of passengers that pass through every year.
Finally, shuttledirect, who are experts in group transfers, can take care of all your needs when it comes to getting you from the airport to your destination.