This season FC Barcelona will have a team consisting of players with intellectual functional diversity. The creation of the team has been once of the first objectives of the new board of directors in its social area, a proposal by the president Joan Laporta before assuming his new mandate.
The team is an initiative which comes from the Club's Diversity and Inclusion area in collaboration with La Masia and backed by the Barça Foundation. FC Barcelona will also have the help of various entities that work with people in this category with the objective of improving their quality of life via social and workplace inclusion.
The result of all this work is a team consisting of 30 players and a coaching of six people, all of whom have vast experience in managing teams involving people with functional diversity as well as a support team of volunteers.
This team will take part in the next edition of the LaLiga Genuine Santander, a pioneering global project developed by the LaLiga Foundation which was initiated in 2017/18.
The competition saw 36 teams take part last season, all of them representatives of clubs from the LFP (Spanish Football League) and its objective is to develop the integration of persons with differing abilities into the world of sport.
The competition is not just based on goals but also fair play, team work, respect and overcoming obstacles and also applies not just to the players but also to the support staff and fans. As such, there are two league titles: one for the sporting champions and one for the fair play champions.
The LaLiga Genuine Santander for 2021/22 is scheduled to start in January with the first phase of the competition after the tournament was put on hold back in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Barça Foundation has experience in working in this area as since 2015 it has put into place the 'Diversitat a Catalunya' with the support of the 'Fundació Bancària La Caixa' and also subsequently in various schools in the city of New York and in Japan. The programme is aimed at children and young people with functional diversity who can have access to physical activity and sport thanks to the FutbolNet methodology.