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Spain trip Day 9: FC Barcelona youth training

BARCELONA, Spain — One day after an extended learning session regarding the various methodologies of FC Barcelona, NorCal Premier Soccer got to see them in action with a visit to the Joan Gamper Training Center, where the club’s famous youth academy trains.

NorCal spent the entire morning at the facility as Barcelona Pere Graticos, the Director of Institutional Relations and La Masia 360 gave us a tour of the entire complex and allowed NorCal to stay to watch three teams of possible future Messi’s and Iniesta’s Friday.

What quickly stood out to the coaches at the complex was how professional and serious the training was even though most of those involved aren’t even old enough to drive a car.

“You can see the players here are extremely focused, there’s a lot of attention to detail, everything is really structured,” said Jesus Mata of Davis Legacy. “There are some cultural differences, unfortunately the fact of the matter is the culture is different than it is back home, Burt I think you can still implement things like a regiment, expectations and standards for players. Here, if they don’t meet those, if they don’t reach those, then there’s a player knocking on the door to have an opportunity to be a part of this program. Back home, I think we can do the exact same things and help players reach a point that they want and maximize their potential.”

Because it was a Friday and most of the teams had games either the following day or two days from the training, it was more of a light session with the squads playing at less-than-full speed or playing mini games for fun.

For Mata though, there was still much to be gained just from watching the session.

“I think apart from obviously coming here and wanting to learn philosophies and learn methodologies and watch training sessions for tactics and exercises and continue our growth as coaches to give material to our players, just to have the experience of being here is amazing,” he said. “I think the ultimate goal of coming here is how you can take an experience and go back home and use it in a positive manner. I think that if each and every one of us can at least influence a player or influence a team, I think we’ve made this trip successful.”

After the experience at Joan Gamper, NorCal was granted another privilege as second division Catalan club Reus Deportiu hosted us for an important league match against Elche, who were relegated from La Liga just last year.

Those who braved the stormy weather and went along for the bus drive on the coast were greeted with smash and grab football in essentially a puddle.

Still, the skill of the players proved impressive in the 1-0 win for Elche, with both sides attempting to play a game of possession despite the outside factors during the match.

“The level is a lot different, you can tell just by watching the game,” Mata said. “It was really nice to see that regardless of the weather conditions, people still came out and supported the team. Unfortunately, I think that would be a little different back home.”

Tired and wet, NorCal Premier Soccer boarded the bus back to Barcelona for Saturday’s big day: youth games at Joan Gamper and a trip to watch RCD Espanyol’s B squad play a third division match.