We just returned from training with FC Barcelona and a futsal tournament in Spain. We played against a couple of FCB teams, saw many more walk around and prepare for games, talked to some of their coaches, and had the privilege to be in a FCB facility.
I was impressed with the professionalism and politeness of the players and coaches. They were well behaved, organized, focused, and showed a lot of sportsmanship.
Coaches calmly gave brief instructions and the youngsters responded immediately. No delays or horsing around.
They walked around in teams with their coaches and used downtime between games to watch other games. And they really watched, even the ten and eleven year olds.
None of the youngsters tried to stand out through special hairdos or fancy equipment or behavior meant to draw attention.
To be clear, the kids did not look bored or robotic. They were smiling and enjoyed their time together. They were creative on the court.
Discipline, focus, and an emphasis on the team rather than the individual are not incompatible with having a good time and playing creatively. At least in the case of these FCB youngsters.
This was tangible experience of the holistic system of player development that FCB has through their La Masia boarding school and the strong value system that permeates the club.
The club’s slogan “més que un club”, which is Catalan and means “more than a club”, was on display. FC Barcelona aspires to be not just a soccer and sports club, but also the best ambassador for sport in Catalonia, Spain, and defender of human rights and democratic freedoms.
To help achieve these goals FC Barcelona contributes 0.7% of its income to the FC Barcelona Foundation and contributes to the humanitarian work of UNICEF through substantial annual donations and the display of the UNICEF logo on their jerseys.