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FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia and Barça’s youth development system were one of the main topics of conversation this weekend at the Festival dello Sport, a meeting organized by the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport in Trento, Italy.
The event was attended by some 150 distinguished guests from different areas of world sport, including Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Napoli head coach Carlo Ancellotti, the eight-time NBA All-Star Steve Nash, and 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, among many others.
FC Barcelona’s representatives were Guillermo Amor, who played 11 seasons for Barça from 1988 to 1998 and is now the Club’s head of Professional Youth Football, and Carles Folguera, a former Barça roller hockey player who is now the Director of La Masia. Amor and Folguera explained not just football at La Masia, but the educational process there as well, under the title of "The Barça youth academy, a gem in the world of football."
“There are two key figures in this process,” Folguera said “Beyond the coaches, we work side by side with the families as players adapt to their surroundings, as well as the teachers, who accompany our residents throughout their stay with us.”
“What makes us different is that we attend to our athletes 24 hours a day, way beyond the two hours of daily training, making sure that their sports training and their education are fully compatible.”
Amor spoke about his experience at Barça, reminding everyone that “players sign with us today, but that they already have to think about what they will do if they end up leaving.” The keys to triumphing at Barça are “talent, hard work, and sentiment.”
Amor also discussed Barça’s style of play, which the Club has been practicing for over 40 years. “It’s what we believe in — the three P’s — pressure, possession, and positioning.”
And Barça, according to Amor, has no plans to change. “If there’s any club that truly believes in its youth academy, that’s us.”