It is not quite eight years since Osasuna found itself on the brink of bankruptcy and one step away from relegation to Spanish soccer’s third tier. Today, the team is set to face Real Madrid in the final of the Spanish cup, the Copa del Rey. Osasuna’s rise, on a budget much lower than its rivals, has been of such a speed and scale that it raises the question as to why other clubs do not follow similar best practices.
The Navarra Gene
Navarra, the Spanish province sandwiched between the Basque Country and Aragon and glazed by the Pyrenees, produces more professional soccer players per capita than any other place in Spain. The region’s success has its roots in a well-established system and structure. Osasuna works with 150 affiliated youth teams, having 20,000 players in its orbit. Osasuna has a very well-developed scouting network, they look for talented players under every rock
Where Monday Matters
Osasuna’s Tajonar academy not only focuses on soccer as the sole priority but combines it with health, psychology, and emotional development. The emphasis is to ensure the sport generates future players and helps them make the transition to the professional level successfully without leaving behind those who cannot make it. Osasuna’s Tajonar academy is a mark of prestige for everyone.
Aimar Oroz, a 21-year-old midfielder, recalled the changing room’s role and how it helps to establish camaraderie and make the atmosphere great when the people inside are friends. Osasuna sticks to the basics and does what works for them. For example, rather than signing a new player or converting a midfielder, Osasuna drafted a healthy fullback, Diego Moreno, from the team’s academy when the coach suddenly found himself without any fullbacks.
Osasuna’s success, however, does not change the club’s values and policies moving forward. They will continue to do the simple and straightforward things that have worked well for them thus far and not normalize anything that is not normal. Win or lose on Saturday, Osasuna will still be Osasuna.