Located on a swathe of land in Sant Joan Despí, just five kilometres from Camp Nou, the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper officially opened its doors on 1 June 2006. The Club’s president at the time was Joan Laporta, although the tract was purchased nine years before by the Board of Directors of then-president Josep Lluís Núñez. Bureaucratic red tape, though, delayed ground-breaking until the winter of 2002, when Joan Gaspart was at the helm of the Club.
The inauguration itself was more symbolic than anything, since activity had begun in earnest on 10 May, 2006 with training sessions of the Club’s youth academy players.
A slew of Club and local officials attended the event, including Laporta; Secretary General of Sports of the Catalan Government, Manuel Ibern; President of the Catalan Football Federation, Jordi Roche; the Mayor of Sant Joan Despí, Antoni Poveda; and two grandchildren of FC Barcelona’s founder Joan Gamper: Manel and Xavier Gamper.
Ten years later, the Ciutat Esportiva is one of the Club’s most important symbols. It is where the youth players grow up, and where they train, play, and learn FC Barcelona’s values. And they do it right next to the Club’s first-team players who, since 2010, under the orders of then manager Pep Guardiola, moved their training facility from the claustrophobic field adjacent to Camp Nou out to the wide open pitches of the Ciutat Esportiva.
Other professional teams train there as well, giving the children of La Masia a close up view of the dreams many of them are shooting for.