Racing Club de Lens, commonly abbreviated as RC Lens, is a French football club based in Lens, Pas-de-Calais, France. The club was founded in 1906. Today, the club has two major national titles to its name, a French championship in 1998 and a Coupe de la Ligue in 1999. At European level, the club has twice risen to the Champions League, and reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2000.
RC Lens has a well-regarded youth academy that has produced a number of talented players over the years. The academy, which is known as La Gaillette, was founded in the 1970s and has been responsible for developing many of the club's most successful players. The academy has a reputation for nurturing young talent and providing a pathway to the first team, as well as to top-level clubs both in France and abroad.
Some of the most notable players to have come through the RC Lens academy include Raphaël Varane, Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Serge Aurier. Varane is perhaps the most successful academy graduate, having gone on to win multiple domestic and international titles with Real Madrid and the French national team. Kondogbia, who is now a regular for La Liga side Atlético Madrid, also came through the academy and played for Lens's first team before being sold to Sevilla. Aurier, who is now a star for Premier League club Nottingham Forest, played for Lens's academy before being sold to Toulouse.
In recent years, the RC Lens academy has continued to produce talented players. Some of the most promising young players to have come through the academy in recent years include Gaël Kakuta and Cheick Doucouré. These players have already established themselves as key members of the Lens first team and are seen as potential stars of the future.