Secret of Barca’s success is its super star factory

Friday, February 11, 2011

BARCELONA - The secret of Spanish football club Barcelona’s unprecedented success in European football is out. It is its superstar factory, a production line that is the envy of the international football circuit.

According to Sun Sport, which was granted unprecedented access as the Catalan giants, football’s most successful youth system is nurtured at the La Masia, the ‘chalet’ adjacent to the Nou Camp stadium where 60 top talents,those whose families live in remote parts of Spain or abroad,reside in the hope of making the first team.

Today, the chalet has 330 kids and hundreds of employees on its rolls, costing the club upwards of 10-million-pounds annually.

Boss Pep Guardiola’s side have been dubbed ‘the best team of all time’ for their epic success in the last three years.

Valdes,Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Pedro, Xavi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Bojan Krkic and Jeffren have all came through Barca’s youth set-up.

The 10 of them will be in the squad for next Wednesday’s Champions League showdown at Arsenal - and eight will start.

The inauspicious, two-storey building has one dining room, six bedrooms, a library, a computer room and a recreation room. Just 12 of the kids sleep in the building. The rest have dormitories in the first floor of the stadium, a mere 30 yards away.

Barca’s kids live and breath the club. A quarter of a century on, they ensure the continuity in a philosophy of excellence, both sporting and human, that has been established within the Spanish giants.

Albert Folguera, the head of La Masia, outlined the club’s approach.

He said: “It’s a system of director, teachers, a doctor, a psychologist, cooks and other workers. There are three teachers, who work in the evening with the children.

He adds: “There’s also a chief of studies and another administrative person who manages all the purchases, tickets and all the kinds of thing the children need for their recreation and studies. We also have three cooks and six kitchen staff.”

Surprisingly, most of the day is spent on school studies. Only two hours are devoted to training in the evening - and ‘always with the ball’.

Folguera declared: “This is the best time for La Masia since it was created in 1979 and also in Barca’s history.

Their education will allow them to make it in other areas if, in the end, their talent is not enough or an injury prevents them from realising their ambition.

All under the watchful eye of Guardiola.

Folguera said: “I speak with Amor once a week and he informs Guardiola. Pep was here 10 days ago and we had a chat about everything. He does that a few times a year.

“Since Pep has been the coach, more 17 to 18-year-olds have trained with the first team than in the entire 32-year history of La Masia. He is the first to correct them and advise them.

Competition is fierce and, once deemed good enough to enter the youth set-up, some pushy parents become desperate for their offspring to continue right to the top. That is why the club has banned mums and dads from training.

Folgera said: “We tell parents, ‘What we will value in your son is character, humility, hard work and discipline. But we also want him to have fun on the pitch, to have creativity and freedom of spirit.If you transmit that to your kid, and I transmit the same values too, that is what your son will grow up to be like.” (ANI)

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