The 40th anniversary of La Masia has not passed unnoticed around the world. Over the weekend the prestigious American business magazine, Forbes, published a story about FC Barcelona’s world-renowned youth development system, which is described as the 'heart' of the Club.
On October 20,1979 La Masia was opened as a residence for young footballers at the Club. To honour its 40 years of success, FC Barcelona has organised a series of events to highlight the work of the Club’s youth system over its history. The FC Barcelona board member Xavier Vilajoana, responsible for youth football, spells out the value given to La Masia by the Club. “It’s a very important aspect of the past, today and will be in the future,” he tells Forbes.
The report details the successes of what it calls the “hallowed grounds” of La Masia, listing the famous products of the Club’s youth system such as Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Pep Guardiola, Carles Puyol, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Victor Valdés and Guillermo Amor.
For Forbes, La Masia is also the place where its most celebrated son, Leo Messi, “honed his other-worldly skills as he skyrocketed to stardom.” The article traces the changes at La Masia, including its move from its original residence, the 18th century farmhouse next to Camp Nou, to the new facilities based at the Club’s Joan Gamper Training Complex, whilst at the same time highlighting the continuity in the youth system’s “style of play, ethos and tactics.”
Nevertheless, the US publication also recognises that La Masia is not just about what happens on the field for its young players who come not just from football but from all the professional sports at the Club, both men’s and women’s. The article cites the introduction of the Masia 360 project in 2016, “a support system and program geared toward the 641 athletes in the youth academy, the coaching staff and families.”
“Personal growth is just as important as professional growth for our young players,” Xavier Vilajoana concludes. “We also don’t know what will happen in the future with a young athlete—maybe there’s an injury or they won’t reach the first team, so we have a responsibility to prepare them for life, whether it’s in sports or not.”
40 years of La Masia, neatly summed up by the business magazine as “a school for both life and sport.”