Diego Lavin - Chamartín Vergara (Spain)

Diego Lavin From Christchurch United to Spanish Football

My name is Diego Lavin and I played for Christchurch United for eight years, playing various positions to where I play now as a left back.  Im in Spain right now looking to sign for a Spanish club.

Ive gone through the whole Christchurch United pre-academy, then the academy right up to the under 20s.  I chose to come over to Christchurch United right at the very start, as I was playing for another Christchurch club at the time and I remember we played a game against Christchurch United  football Academy and we got beaten, we got beaten quite badly and I thought this was a really good club to be a part of, so I came along and I liked it a lot and so I stayed.  I love the coaches and the players are really good as well, it was really good environment for me.  So even though I was quite young at that point, I still saw what the club was trying to do and what they were doing and that's something that stuck

What did you learn through Christchurch United's Academy?
A lot of the fundamentals of football and how to apply yourself on the pitch and make better decisions, it's a really good environment as you moved from pre-academy phase into the actual
Academy itself and then all the way up 17s and 20s.  As it started off from the fundamentals, like
wall control or 1v1's, it just got more complex throughout the years.  We've also had so many different coaches that are all really good, so it's more more about thinking before you get the ball, about the tactics of the game and knowing how to analyze yourself, your team and your moment

There's a lot of passion contained within the club, also a big driving factor from the start was my dad who's had a big passion for football and I got it from him. But throughout my time at Christchurch United I've only grown that passion just because having players and coaches around me, driving us constantly and they're really dedicated to the game.  This can only drive your passion for more, so it's a little like at Christchurch United everyone wants to be there and that can only really drive you passion more.  I love playing and obviously there's a competitive part out of it and learning which is great and then there's the other side as well it's kind of like
your responsibilities and the discipline that you need to bring to yourself to the game and to the club.

Football's a game that requires a lot of values that you can apply to life as well, some of the disciplines like responsibility, it's expecting other players, referees and coaches about preparing, about being punctual and being able to work hard even when it's not going good.  I was lucky enough to be captain for some of my games, having the players look to you a little bit more means you have to know or think about what you need to be doing to help the team, to make sure your players feel supported and feel like you are leading them and can help them.
Football's a teamwork sport and these values obviously bring people to close together to get the best out of the group, whether it's in a game or training over a season or a cup run

Extra Training
If you want to be the best you can be and able to stay at the top of the game, you just have to do
a lot of individual work. I've always been doing individual training, whether it's just technique in the backyard, dribbling, doing touches, I would bounce the ball against a wall to work on my
ball control, I was also going to the football Park before breakfast, shooting practice, running, building with the ball.

Moving To Spain After Christchurch United
It's been quite eye opening playing football in Spain, I've trained and played with various different levels here in Madrid, started off in the second division and that was quite cool.  In general, training with all these teams are of a good level and being able to see how I compare and what the drills are like and what the players are like in the tactics.  There's been everything, including man to man marking, pressing, winning your individual battles and then once you're on the ball you get into your position, that's really cool to see and being able to compete at a decent level as well where everything's faster, you have different skills,  that you're being tested on compared to New Zealand.  You have to be quite adaptable, not only moving into different country, but the language barriers, new team environment, new coaches, new players, new playing speed.  There's so much going so I need to work harder or I need to slow down to think about coping with all the different changes that are going, whilst also trying to be so focused.

What's next for Diego?
Last week, I trained with a new team in Madrid for their under 19s and after the coach said he was quite interested in me, so I've been looking at this opportunity and it might be an option to stay for the season because they still have 17 games left in this season until May and then see see what comes up next,  if I stay in Spain as this year's my last year with U19 age group, then I have to move up into the men's team next year, so I will have to look at that option,  then I can keep going in Spain, maybe study here or go overseas again to America to explore that option and focus on a scholarship.

Advice for current Christchurch United Academy Players?
The big thing is make the most of all the time you have to work on yourself in football, don't take any of that for granted and make sure every moment you have, make it work because it adds up
and can really help you go as far as possible as a player

Why should players join Christchurch United?

It is a club of an immense passion for football, all the coaches, all the players, the community.  They love football, on top of that Christchurch United have got the facilities.  The staff have been really good, really friendly, highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable, as well as the playing style is really good.  If you want to to help develop your football this is the place to be.

Check out Diego's story on YouTube or Spotify