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At the age of just 14 years, Ryunosuke Kobayashi from Japan is one of the new athletes at the Barça Residency Academy in Casa Grande (Arizona). It’s a very special case after he had previously been at two Barça Academies in two different countries, in Orlando (USA) and Katsushika (Japan), clearly showing how easy it is to adapt the Barça style around the world, together with the methodology and values that are applied at the Barça Escola.
The Kobayashi family, from Saitama (Japan), moved to Orlando for work reasons when Ryu was just eight. After spending some time in the youth system at Orlando City SC, his dream to wear the FC Barcelona colours came true in June 2019 when the first trials were held for places at the newly opened Barça Academy Orlando in the very city where he lived. His quality soon showed, and he started playing in teams in an age group one year above his own.
In March 2020, and due to the pandemic, the Kobayashi family had to go back to Japan for a few months. In Japan, the authorities still allowed outdoor sports while seeking to control the spread of the coronavirus, which meant Ryu could continue playing at Barça Academy Katsushika by the same system he had been enjoying in Orlando, and this meant it was very easy for him to adapt to his new team-mates.
Ryu’s big goal is to one day turn professional or get a grant to do sport at college meant he worked especially hard to get through the trials for the Barça Residency Academy Arizona, which were held at the end of last season after he had returned to Orlando.
Some 90 aspirants arrived from the ten Barça Academies around the US, but the young midfielder was one of the 15 players chosen to form part of the residency academy federated teams. Ryu was the only one from Barça Academy Orlando, while there were nine from Barça Academy PRO New York, two from Barça Academy Northern Virginia and Barça Academy Austin and one more from Barça Academy Nashville.
Ryu’s football dreams are slowly coming true, although one has yet to come true – to visit Barcelona. He was picked by the Barça Academy Orlando to play at the Barça Academy World Cup 2020, together with 2,000 athletes from the different FC Barcelona schools around the world, but it never happened because of Covid-19. It meant he never got to train at the same Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper as his heroes, nor got to see the Camp Nou.
But he is getting closer and closer to finally achieving his dream.
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