FCBESCOLA: Imparting Barcelona Football Culture to Nigerian Youths

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Even for those who are not Barcelona, their model and style have come to be accepted as the right way football should be played and the Blaugrana are not resting on their oars as they are trying to spread the philosophy across the world.  through the Barcelona Football Academy-FCBESCOLA. Kunle Adewale caught up with the head coach of the academy in Lagos- Bernat Villa, and he gave an insight into what FCBESCOLA stands for

After successful experience in Egypt and Morocco, Nigerian kids will be having a taste of the philosophy and Barcelona brand of football, which is being temporary sited at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.

Taking the kids through the basics is Barnat Villa, who had been in charge of the Barcelona academy in Spain for several years and is supported by Nigerian coaches that had been equally imbued with the philosophy of the Spanish team.

“The aim of the FCBESCOLA is to teach the kids the same way as we teach in Barcelona using the same methodology and drills. For now we are having about 1,000 kids out of which about 700 would eventually make it through for the school proper. I’m being supported by some local coaches of whom I have explained to them our methodology and we are teaching them our philosophy,” Villa said.

Villa is very optimistic that from what he had seen so far, there were great potentials that could eventually make it to the top of their career in football.

“We’ve seen a lot of good players that are on very good level. But the most important thing is for these players to be in good physical condition as their counterparts in Europe and if they can understand how we work and train, which is our methodology, in few years some of them can make it to good clubs in Europe and eventually their national team,” the head coach noted.

Asked the major difference between an average Nigerian player and their European counterparts, Villa said, “The kids here are more of individual players, though they have good technical skills but they have problems technically and collectively. They are too individualistic, they always think they can take on their opponents and go alone with the ball and finish the ball by themselves. We have to make them realise they should play with the team.”

Villa said about 1,100 players were registered in the first phase, while the registration for the second phase slated for October was ongoing and he is hoping that the academy could register about 1,000 more players for the second phase.

According to him the players would train all year round and the very good ones could be transferred to La Masia (Barcelona Academy in Spain).

For now, the players will be coming from home, but plans are in the offing to build hostels where the kids would be camped. “There is no hostel provision for now, but it’s an idea that would be developed in a few years. For now the kids just come from their homes and train for one hour fifty minutes thrice in a week and on Saturdays they are involved in competitive matches. At the end of the exercise if we discover some distinguished players, why not, in few years they could be transferred to Barcelona,” he explained.

He said the sole aim was to imbibe the Barcelona culture into Nigerian football and to develop the talent in Nigeria and make them great players in future.

Also speaking on the vision, mission and the model which the academy would adopt in its operation, the academy’s Sport Director in Nigeria, Lesile Oghomienor, said it would be of world standard.

“We are planning to have a 7,000 capacity academy stadium with all the sports facilities such as gyms offices and training pitches. The academy will also admit children from ages six to 18 that are good for grassroots development. We hope to do that within the next two years. We hope that in the next few years, products of our academy will win the U-17 World Cup for Nigeria,” he said.

On how the academy would benefit Nigerians, Oghomienor said, “the nation’s kids are going to benefit a whole lot, as they would be certified by Barcelona after they leave the school. In other words, they will become marketable and attractive to global soccer industry. Scouts would be scrambling for them as they have gone through the same model that players like Lionel Messi and other Barcelona stars went through. They would be attractive to big European clubs and even in Nigeria. The ripple effect is that our senior team will get better, the age grade teams will be better and that will be more glory for the nation.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Deji Tinubu, has said the government would ensure the smooth operation of FC Barcelona Academy in Nigeria by supporting its plans for the engagement of youths in the state.

 “Our youths will get the right value of Barcelona FC which will be more beneficial the development of football in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa in general,’’ he said.