They made the 5,900 kilometer trek from Montreal to Barcelona with one goal: to follow in the footsteps of their Barça idols by participating in the 2018 FCBEscola International Tournament, which this year is bringing together some 1,900 kids from around the world to compete over four days in the Barça Academy's marquee annual event.
But before Tournament opens on Monday, the children representing the FC Barcelona soccer academy in Quebec got the chance to attend a Barça B training session, where a young man named Ballou Tabla is currently turning heads. Ballou, an 19-year-old winger who was born in the Ivory Coast but moved to Canada as a child, joined FC Barcelona last summer from the Montreal Impact.
After the reserve team worked out, the budding young players from the FCBEscola Montreal got to meet Ballou. Here are the highlights of what Ballou had to say.
On what it was like when he signed with Barça:
“When Barça called me, I was on holiday in the Ivory Coast and I was told that the Club was interested in me.”
“For me, who played in Montreal, it was unthinkable, I immediately packed my bags for Catalonia.”
On adapting to his new club:
“When I arrived at the Club, it was difficult because the style of play is different.”
“Here, everything goes faster. You have to be focused every moment, anticipate, and think about what you’re going to do when you get the ball.”
“I’m working hard to get used to playing under pressure and keeping possession."
His advice for the FCBEscola players:
"I hope all these young people get the chance I had.”
“I advise you to work hard, to believe in yourself, and if you are made to succeed, your turn will come.”
“Many children would like to be in your shoes, at the FCBEscola, to be supervised by professionals who will make you progress quickly.”