Profile Of F.C. Barcelona Should Inspire American Academies

For those of you that were lucky to catch the 60 Minutes show on Sunday, January 6th about the entire set up of FC Barcelona, I can definitely say that it lived up to all expectations. The access that CBS was given was absolutely stupendous.

A couple of familiar faces…

I think it’s very easy to see why Barcelona is arguably the best club in football/soccer. To see their academy teaching the up-and-coming children on the values of life, society, as well as the game itself it just blows your mind.

Seeing an eight year old do the same tricks like Lionel Messi has done for the last several years makes you shake your head. It was awesome to learn that teammates from the same year in the Catalonian Club’s La Masia academy like Gerard Pique and Cese Fabregas are now teammates for the first team.

The interviewer walked up the steps towards the upper deck of the Camp Nou.  To then see everyone hold up a sign and sing the club’s anthem after the music died down was a once in a lifetime experience, even for the television viewer. To see the locker room of Barcelona was breathtaking, as well as those who wore a number from the past has their names above the current holders.

If you thought this was just a football club then sadly you were very mistaken. Yes the club is a way of life in the city and the players are still humble as they put on their Blaugrana jerseys to get ready for battle. But one thing that sets them above the rest is this simple fact – they can mold different players and continue to make them one big club for all.

This is not to say that other clubs around the globe are not equal to Barcelona. But after witnessing the sights brought forth by this 60 Minutes piece, it literally blows your mind away. But with that said, the questions that emerge point towards MLS. What can the youth academies from MLS clubs and other independent American clubs cull to better prepare our players for the future?

While there are some improvements being made, I can definitely say it’s not at the level of what Barcelona has done or have been doing. But the one thing I believe is that time is on our side here in the States. There will be plenty of time to make these improvements in our players, but the main question is who will have the patience to get to that level?

While this league and our players continue to improve year in and year out, the one thing that does stick in my mind is this: getting to the level that Barcelona occupies will take a lot more time than within a twenty year span. A lot of hard work and dedication to the American game is needed to reach that level – perhaps even past my time.

But once again it was just so fascinating to see an eight year old in the Barcelona Academy perform in a pickup game or in a structured scrimmage similar technical skills to Lionel Messi. Our challenge is developing our youth to meet their full potential – and maybe someday cultivate the next Lionel Messi right here on American soil.

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