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FC Barcelona's 2017/18 Youth Academy teams were officially presented at the Ciutat Esportiva on Tuesday evening. A total of 274 boys and 66 girls from the Club's 20 youth squads—from the Under-7 team to Barça B and the four girls teams—were unveiled.
The teams were called out onto the grass, one by one, and were greeted by the following Club officials: Josep Maria Bartomeu, the Club president; Jordi Mestre, the Head of the Professional Football Area and the Head of Women's Football; Silvio Elías, the Director of Professional Youth Football; Xavier Vilajoana, the Director of Amateur Youth Football; Òscar Grau, the Club's CEO; Josep Segura, the Sports Manager of the Football area; Guillermo Amor, the Head of Institutional and Sporting Relations for the First Team; Jose Mari Bakero, the Head of Professional Youth Football; Jordi Roura, the Head of Amateur Youth Football; Aureli Altimira, the Head of Amateur Youth Football; and Markel Zubizarreta, the Sporting Manager of Women's Football.
Once all the teams were out on the field, the coaches and their teams posed for the official 2017/2018 picture. "We want to match the trust they have deposited in us by giving our full effort," said Berta Gras, the captain of the girls Under-14 team. "We work hard week after week, we feel the Barça colors and its values, and we want to show it every single game."
Adrià Capdevila, the boys' Under-14 team captain emphasized the values taught at La Masia. "On behalf of my teammates, coaches, physiotherapists, delegates, taxi drivers, coaching staff, teachers, and members of the Sports committee, I want to say thanks," he said. "Because, from the very beginning, you have been teaching us to be not just athletes, but people, which is the most important thing."
"Value your stay at Barça," said Guillermo Amor. "Being here is very difficult. The most important thing is to work hard every day and make the sacrifices necessary." In addition, Amor said he wanted "to thank the families and kids for everything that you do for Barça."
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu told the parents: "Your children are in the best hands. If they listen to the coaches, with everything they teach, you can be sure your children will be well off...They are learning how to play football, but also to become fine people. It's a journey that has a happy ending."
"We're building the Johan Cruyff stadium," Bartomeu continued. "Next year it will be under construction, with cranes and workers, but with the idea that everything goes through the Ciutat Esportiva, and that players play at the Johan Cruyff stadium before making it to the first team."
"We want the kids to enjoy sports, make friends, become team players, and learn life's lessons," he concluded.
Jose Mari Bakero: 'La Masia is excitement'
"La Masia is, above all, excitement," said Bakero. "One must always take into account that La Masia is about training, and us parents and coaches have to help create people who know how to adapt to any situation, to try and make them go slowly and steadily through all the categories. La Masia is a global model. Everyone wants to know how we work and train at Barça. It is totally different from anything else. You have to dream of reaching the first team."
"For me, success is giving the best one has. It is when you see that your children are giving everything they have," Bakero continued. "This is success. The rest is often times coincidental."
Bakero also spoke of Johan Cruyff: "We are here because Johan created a different way of playing, and we will play in a stadium named after him." Bakero concluded by reminding the Youth Academy kids of Cruyff's words before the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley: "Come out every day to train and have fun."
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