A Nightmare for Mexico’s Soccer Opponents: More Chuckys On the Way

Garcés helped fine-tune Pachuca’s approach. He earned a degree in football and science at Liverpool John Moores University in England and was determined to apply what he had learned about physiology, biomechanics, training and tactics to the club.

Garcés also studied how the titans of European clubs, such as F.C. Barcelona and Manchester United, operated. He brought in Hans Westerhof — a coach of youth and professional teams in the Netherlands such as Ajax and of Mexican professional teams such as Guadalajara — and Westerhof’s son, Wout, also a coach.

Garcés also hired Efraín Flores, the former coach of the top-flight Atlas club in Guadalajara, to lead Pachuca’s first division team. Alfredo Altieri, who had worked for Club Atlético Boca Juniors in Argentina, was hired to direct the youth teams, known as the “fuerzas basicas.”

“There was a great foundation, but we organized it a bit more,” Altieri said, “and provided a specific game plan, an outline on how to train players individually, and a format for the residential and academic portions.”

On the field, the academy emphasized a specific form of play — how to attack and defend with speed — at every age level. Hans Westerhof, who has since retired, introduced European training ideas, such as small group practices, and Wout Westerhof wrote a manual for coaches. Rigorous physical training does not begin until players are 15, in an attempt to avoid injuries and burnout.

“What we really want is for them to amass the 10,000 hours to become an expert,” Garcés said, referring to a belief among some social scientists that it takes that long to master something. “By the time they’re 18, they have those 10,000 hours.”

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