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Barça Academies around the world are gradually returning to action as the worldwide crisis caused by the coronavirus has begun to ease. This week a total of 13 of the 46 FC Barcelona’s soccer academies spread across the planet (more than a quarter) are already underway again on three different continents: Asia, Europe and America, in specific regions where the local authorities have already given the go-ahead for outdoor sports to resume.
With the pandemic being mitigated, the first academy to open its doors in mid-April was the Barça Academy PRO Haikou (China), followed in May by those of Nara and Fukuoka (Japan), Chengdú (China), Warsaw (Poland), Budapest (Hungary), Nashville and the Barça Residency Academy Arizona (United States). In recent days, those of Katsushika and Yokohama (Japan), Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Northern Virginia and Orlando (United States) have also restarted.
This return to training is being carried out in observance of a series of safety protocols to avoid contagion and risk among the different players. Athletes are working in smaller groups, even divided across different days, and specific rules have also been applied depending on the particularities of each Barça Academy to control the arrival and departure of players and the way they return to their families. In the specific case of the Barça Academy Nashville, players have been kept 12 feet apart, twice the amount required by the government.
First Barça Academy closed on Chinese New Year
New Year and the spread of the coronavirus to different regions of China led to the closure of the first Barça Academy in the middle of January. The Local Project Directors (DPL) of the Chinese Barça Academy returned home, and since then have been directing operations remotely, having been quarantined three times, first in China, then upon arrival in Spain and finally the third that we are currently experiencing.
Due to the spread of the pandemic worldwide, the Barça Academy World Cup was cancelled in early March and, always following the security measures of each country, face-to-face activities at all academies were stopped. The Barça Academy coaches needed to design their entire program in order to use electronic methods to offer alternative types of training to their players.
Players have been able to access a video platform with which they have been able to continue working on their fitness at home and doing different ball skills exercises. They have been sharing their progress on their own social networks as well as those of their respective Barça Academies with the hashtag #BarçaAcademyStayHome. There are currently about 50 different activities for them to refer to.
The players have also been receiving remote theory instruction from DPLs and local coaches. Among other things, they have been sent links to watch old FC Barcelona games, which they have been analysing while sharing their ideas on different group video conferences.
The DPLs have also used this as an opportunity to teach the players about the club’s 120-year history. As well as the team’s latest triumphs and famous nights at the Camp Nou, the best goals scored by the biggest stars and the amazing life stories of the 2019-20 squad, they have also been using Kahoot to learn about the club in bygone eras.
Coaching the coaches
The Barça Academy DPLs around the world have also made the most of this time to receive more than 40 hours of specific training from the Methodology Department through its Technical Coordinators for four weeks.
These workshops have offered them the opportunity to particularly work on the methodology, although they have also received specific training on aspects such as talent development, team management, branding, communication, compliance and have even received lectures from the likes of Javier Saviola, Spanish handball coach Jordi Ribera, the Belgian coach Robert Martínez.
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