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The Barça Academy is being represented for the first time ever at the Olympics. Eric Garcia, now in the senior team and who before becoming part of La Masía played for one season (2008/09) at the old FCBEscola Barcelona, and Japan’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, now of Bologna FC, and a former pupil of Barça Academy Fukuoka, are both taking in the Tokyo 2020 football tournament.
In fact, their two national teams, Spain and Japan, played each other in Kobe in a warm-up match that ended 1-1.
Spain opened their campaign by drawing 0-0 with Egypt in Sapporo (0-0), and will go on to play Australia and Argentina in their other Group C fixtures.
Host nation Japan start against South Africa on Thursday and go on to play Mexico and France in Group A.
Eric García stood out from an early age when he joined the 'Dani Alves' team at Barça Escola Barcelona in September 2008.
He impressed so much that he was invited to join Barça’s U10B team, where he played alongside Andy Gudjohnsen and Iván De la Peña Jr, sons of two former first team stars. He proved to be a natural leader, and was made captain of the teams he played for at every level.
Says his former coordinator at FCBEscola, Iñaki Andreu, "his coaches always admired the way he encouraged and supported his team-mates. That shows how mature he was, with unusual leadership skills for his age, and a clear example of the kind of values we always try to get across to our players."
Four years after departing for Manchester City, Eric is back home and about to become the fifth Barça Escola Barcelona player to `progress through to the first team.
His unusual leadership skills for his age are a clear example of the kind of values we always try to get across to our players“
Takehiro Tomiyasu is also a defender, and was similarly outstanding when he joined Barça Academy Fukuoka, one of four Barça Academies in the country, along with Katsushika, Nara and Yokohama. He captained the team at the MIC in 2011.
‘Take’ later moved to Avispa Fukuoka, where he made his J-League debut at the age of just 17.
He made the move to Europe in 2018, first with Sint-Truiden in Belgium and then Bologna FC in Serie A. Now 22, and after two seasons in Italy, several even bigger clubs have been keeping a close eye on his rapid progress.
He is already part of the Japan senior side, where he is especially remembered for heading in the only goal of a 1-0 defeat of Saudi Arabia in the last 16 of the 2019 Asian Cup.
A very complete all-rounder who showed he was well up to playing in more competitive leagues than the Japanese one“
The local project director of Barça Academy Fukuoka at the time when Takehiro was there, Iván Palanco, recalls that "he is a very complete all-rounder who showed he was well up to playing in more competitive leagues than the Japanese one. He is very serious and reserved, and is always keen to improve.”
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