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Before European soccer became a household brand in the United States, there were a handful of big-name clubs that true soccer fans knew: Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid.

On that list as well was Juventus FC, arguably — and I stress the word “arguably” — the biggest club in Italy, one that was originally founded in 1897.

In 1956, the Juventus Soccer Club was established in Redwood City, the founders naming the club after their favorite Italian team.

The two clubs had never had any kind of relationship — until now. The Peninsula’s Juventus club announced Tuesday a partnership with the Italian giant, one that will help local soccer talent develop, with the ultimate goal of sending the top players to play in Europe.

The partnership was put together with the help of Juventus-Redwood City general manager Anders Perez, who simply reached out to the Italian club to see if there was any interest in forming a partnership.

“I’m about looking to improve the experience for the player,” said Perez, who has been involved with the Redwood City club for the last five years. “What more could we (as a club) do? We have a top academy program, we’re sending players to college and the pros. The last thing (to do) was sending players to Europe.

“We were fortunate enough to connect with a top club.”

It almost seems like a no-brainer for the main Italian club. Here was a youth organization that was already well established and using a brand that the parent company can only capitalize on.

At the same time, the Italian team is looking for talent. Not only to fill its various teams, but also as a way to make money by selling talent to other clubs around the world.

At the same time, local soccer players will benefit from the training and technical support the big club can provide.

“In early December (of 2018) we reached out to them and piqued their interest. … They sent a scout-slash-technical director to our facility … and he saw we had something,” Perez said. “What they’ll provide for us is coaching methodology. In Europe, they’re way more advanced in developing players. We’ll have someone oversee our technical staff, who has worked with the academy in [Italy]. We can now also begin to take our teams to Italy for seven-to-10-day trips and train in the actual complex where the team trains.

“The last thing is choosing the top players to join the team in Italy.”

The Redwood City organization has now been rebranded “Juventus Academy Silicon Valley,” which is one of five academies the main club sponsors, joining clubs in Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Miami.

“By planting academies all over the world, and they’re not the only club to do it, they are about trying to acquire talent at a very low cost,” Perez said.

Juventus Academy Silicon Valley will have one advantage over all the other academies the club sponsors, however. The Redwood City organization won’t have to change their name, logo or their color scheme.

“For them (the parent club), it’s all about the product. And at the end, the product is good football,” Perez said.

***

Ashely Shim, a San Mateo native, has qualified for the ANA Junior Inspiration junior golf tournament this weekend in Palm Springs.

Shim, 15, is one of 46 junior golfers from around the world who earned a spot in the tournament — with a chance to qualify for the main ANA Inspiration, the first LPGA major of the season the first weekend of April.

2018 was a breakout year for Shim, who competed in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball tournament, the U.S. Women’s Amateur as well as the Rolex Girls’ Junior tournament. She capped the year by winning the championship of the Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle tournament in Mesa, Arizona Dec. 30.

***

The Accel Gymnastics boys’ team had a strong showing at the Northern California state championships last weekend in Tulare in the Central Valley.

The Level 10 team finished second, while the Level 7 squad took third in their competition bracket as 36 of 38 athletes qualified for the regional championships. Eight athletes, ranging from Levels 5 to 10, were named to all-star teams.

Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: nathan@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117.

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