The Dragon Force project was born on the 6th of September 2008 and, six years later, it keeps growing. The anniversary coincided with the start of the classes for the year 2014/15 in the 14 national schools – now joined by Dragon Force Algarve, in Almancil – and all of them celebrated with a cake, and with “Happy Birthday” being singed by the children. Over 3000 students are now training under this innovative concept concerning football.
At Vitalis Park – the birthplace of Dragon Force, which holds the school in Porto –, project manager Ricardo Ramos summed up the last years: “Today, we are celebrating the ambition and passion of FC Porto through Dragon Force. Six years old, and it is still an ambitious project, as the main objective is to feed the youth teams of FC Porto. And we are doing that with highly dedicated, competent and passionate professionals and coaches”. The results are easily seen: 83 players have already moved on to the youth teams of FC Porto.
Talking exclusively to Porto Canal and www.fcporto.pt
, Ricardo Ramos talked about the continuous expansion of Dragon Force, now moving abroad – on the 13th of September, the first school outside of Portugal will open in Bogota, Colombia – and referred to a 40% growth in comparison to 2013, which might lead to a record of 3500 students. “We are still following a strict criterion regarding the national expansion, especially in the Centre and in the North cost of the country. We will keep aiming at international expansion and trying to answer the demand we’ve been getting abroad, with children coming to us to learn. In the last two years, there were over 500 cases like that”.
The summer camps – for school breaks during Christmas, Easter and Summer – are another component and an important “base for recruitment”. Ricardo Ramos also reminded that the project doesn’t stop at sports: “The project management also follows the growth of the school itself. Apart from the infrastructures and the human conditions, we try to help the parents during the growth of the students, so they can not only be better students, but also better citizens, aware of what is around them”.
Football is not, in fact, the only sports being played at the Dragon Force schools: there are three other schools dedicated to handball, basketball and roller hockey, with 350 students registered. Apart from that, there is also the Dragon Force girls, coordinated by Isabel Osório, a coach in the white and blue project from the start. “We’ve always had plenty of female coaches from the start. I believe at one point we were even the club with the most female coaches on an international ranking. Now, with the Dragon Force girls, we intend to become a reference in the national women’s football”.