Christmas was great, but not just for the kids. It was a great festive period for a coach who's been living the Juventus dream for a few months now. Giuseppe Zappella is one of the new faces at the Bianconeri academy, having joined in the summer to take charge of the Allievi Nazionali 1st and 2nd Division.
So his look back at 2013 is restricted to just a few months. A short but intense period, spent learning all about his new surroundings – something he told JTV about in his end-of-year interview: «I've only recently come into this world and it's been great to learn about how things work at a big club like Juventus. Learning working methods employed by all the coaches, and sharing your own work with many more experienced colleagues on a daily basis. They helped me to ease myself in gently, so I wasn't thrown in at the deep end».
Zappella began working with his group of '98s in August. Only a few months earlier they had just missed out on the Giovanissimi Nazionali title under Claudio Gabetta. A squad that is now playing up an age category. An added difficulty which will help them a lot in the future. Something Zappella reiterated: «It's a hard league, against excellent sides from Lega Pro and with guys a year older. We try to focus on technique, in the knowledge that they will progress through competitive football. That's where we need to bridge the gap and the lads know that they need to prepare from that perspective, because if they're to compete in the Allievi Nazionali A and B league in a few months time, they already need to be almost fully developed players. The squad is improving significantly and I'm very pleased about that, given that over the first half of the season I've spent more time with the lads than I have with my own family!»
Zappella's Allievi have some big games coming up in 2014. The league recommences on Sunday 12 January with the second half of the season. To go into that in the best possible shape, the squad will play a tournament in Milan in the first few days of the new year. That will give them the chance to compete against teams of the same age group from Italy's major clubs.