The Genova International Academy is an exclusive football academy that is challenging conventional pathways to becoming a professional footballer.
The organisation was started by its president, Morris Pagniello in 2008. Pagniello was once an aspiring footballer in Australia who was oblivious to “how far behind” he was in his bid to achieve his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Once Pagniello finished his playing career he decided to help young footballers coming from under-developed football nations.
Determined to bridge “that gap”, Pagniello developed his academies for aspiring Australian footballers to come and train before they go overseas in pursuit of a career in football.
The academy is now in its tenth year and operations have expanded from one academy to over one hundred across America, Canada, Asia, Spain and Italy.
“We started with 7 academy kids in a park and today we’re 18,000 affiliated so it has surpassed what I was looking for but still I’m still looking to build in each country possible.” Pagniello said.
Unlike club academies in the UK, The Genova International Academy is a paid service and Pagniello has said that this had led to some frustrations because the mentality is – ‘we shouldn’t have to pay if we’re good enough’.
Pagniello believes this viewpoint is simply “not true”.
“It’s the world’s most important sport and most played sport so the competition is enormous and until you get to some European nation like Spain or Italy you don’t really know how tough your competition is.”
The Academy President argues that through the usual pathway “only 1% of players make it” with the rest left discouraged from pursuing a professional career in the sport.
As a young aspiring player, Pagniello himself took “two to three years” before he earned his first paid contract at 23 and the Australian is motivated to give other “kids an opportunity to go to the lower league clubs and show themselves.”
Over 82 players who have joined or passed through the GISS Residential Academy doors have signed to professional clubs in the past 6 years.
Learn more by watching the video below: