An academy management: the secrets behind the return of Magallanes to the First Division after 35 years

Magellan is celebrating and, to tell the truth, a good part of the Chilean football fans, too. Manojito de Claveles is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved clubs in national football. One of those teams that embody transversality and that even generate a double militancy that no one would dare to discuss. There is no football fan of those who pride themselves on that condition who, at least, does not know the first phrases of the albiceleste anthem, the one that today resonates louder than ever: after 35 years, the club from San Bernardo, the commune to which he returned a while ago, after moving around the capital, is back in the First Division, the category he founded and in which he won the first three-time championship, between 1933 and 1935. She would later win it one more time, in 1938.

This Magellan, yes, has different characteristics from his most romantic version. To begin with, it is a public limited company, controlled by a soccer player representative, the model that has been called into question in recent months. It was at the end of 2017 when the economic group headed by Cristián Ogalde, Claudio Bravo’s agent, among other players, acquired 70 percent of the shares of the company that was held by Anselmo Palma, in an operation that bordered US $ 4.2 million. In this way, the refoundation of the Old Academy began.

“It’s still a bit hard to assimilate the moment. It was many days of waiting. In the end, seeing people celebrating in the dressing room is the consecration of a long process. We are happy because this is a big step towards the future”, expressed Ogalde once he won the title.

He then explained the structure of the squad and the philosophy of the club. “He obeys more than a person to a project that he is founding, in believing that young people are the future of the club. When we spoke with Nico, in the run-up to the tournament, we realized that we needed a player profile. That is why we support ourselves with great players like César Cortés. Then Villanueva, Acevedo, and Jiménez joined”, he recalled.

Finally, he left open a dream. “The 2023 season is quite a challenge. But 2022 is not over yet. We are finalists of the Chile Cup and we have the legitimate right to think that we can win it. Now one thinks how he continues to build a club project. We are not a campus, we are a club”, he raised, with undisguised pride.

He also addressed his role as an agent. “When I entered soccer I did it as a leader of the UC in formative soccer. They advised me that because of my work I could advise the little ones. I ended up very happy for what I did in races like with Claudio. And the commitments I made with him and more people I will not dishonor. I don’t take new players, but I do have commitments with people when I didn’t have Magallanes. I want to honor my commitment to them. But my focus now is Magallanes”, he sentenced. “You have to make everything transparent, say that I am in Magallanes. I am happy here. This requires a lot of work and love for football”, he added.

Magellan raises the glass that accredits him as champion.

The Magallanes that Ogalde received was, according to those who participated in the process of institutional reconstruction, absolutely different from the thriving institution that today celebrates its return to the most important category of Chilean soccer. In those days, although the club was already a sports joint-stock company, there were financial difficulties. “I was in another position, with negative numbers, I had no commercial development, no sponsors, nothing. At that time, he was not even close to thinking about what he lives today”, recalls the former general manager, Alfonso Gómez.

The restructuring was at all levels. “Commercial growth began, ordering, lowering costs, working on details. this was five years ago”, explains Gomez. The other look was strictly sporty. “It was invested, but cautiously, intelligently. Work was done on the infrastructure for young soccer, in the care of the players, agreements were established for their medical treatments“, Add.

There is more. “We want the clothes to be good, that they have good food, that they eat at the club, before the pandemic. All those details were marking the differences that this year gave results”, insists Gómez, who left the management of the club a few months ago. A striking aspect: the jacket is made by the Siker company, which uses a fabric based on recycled waste from the sea for its manufacture, another sign of the new institutional approach.

In October 2021, Ogalde had referred to his link with the club. “I have the property of Magellan. I find it valuable to make it transparent. He had had Santa Cruz and the opportunity arose to manage a club with a lot of tradition and in Santiago. I wanted the challenge of better managing a club”, he explained to ADN radio. He also disclosed the purchase of a six-hectare property in the vicinity of Paine, in order to build the new institutional Sports City there, a space in which the lower categories would have a key presence. In those days, the intermediary admitted that the promotion was a key part of the project. “The clubs often do not consider that the lower divisions are an investment and not an expense (…) I would love to be promoted, it suits the club. In most clubs I have seen that you have to put more money than what you receive on TV”, he established.

Today, the projection may even be better: Magellan will play the final of the Chile Cup. If he wins it, for which he must beat the winner of the key between Unión Española and Universidad de Chile, will get a place in the next Copa Libertadores.

The celebration of the carabeleros (Photo: Agenciauno)

Magellan’s dominance in 2022 was, at times, overwhelming. Nicolás Núñez’s team, which was strengthened by figures of the stature of Luis Jiménez, who even interrupted his retirement, Charles Villanueva Y Felipe Floresadded to a structure that has other notable names, such as the Uruguayan goalkeeper Gastón Rodríguez, defenders Albert Acevedo and Nicolás Crovetto, midfielders Iván Vásquez and Cesar Cortes and the Colombian striker Yorman Zapata, one of the sensations of the category, exerted a supremacy that seemed total. He came to be 16 points behind his pursuer. However, towards the end, the distance was shortened. Of course, just at the moment when it was most needed, the experience of his main figures ended up being key to achieving the goal.

About the Núñez process, there are practically no doubts. In a decision to say the least unusual, in June the club announced the extension of the link, which expired at the end of the year, until the end of 2024, an unequivocal sign of satisfaction with their work. In those days, the Caravelero club had an advantage of 16 units over its closest escort.

Núñez is a man of the house. He had retired from football in 2019, precisely with the albiceleste shirt. The intention is to project him as one of the technicians who will embody the renewal in Chilean football. He is undoubtedly on the right track.