NEW YORK – Youth soccer across America is about to get a major helping of the Barça Way.
FC Barcelona announced on Friday afternoon a massive expansion of the American outlet of their youth soccer camp, FCBEscola, which will be aimed at more than 3,500 boys and girls between the ages of six and 12 in nine cities across the country. The club aims to teach American kids the Barcelona philosophy, including drills and exercises taught by Barça coaches.
“It’s a very happy day for us because last week, we started this new era in the United States with these new camps,” said FC Barcelona deputy president Juan José Castillo.
Castillo was accompanied by New York Red Bulls midfielder and former Barcelona star Rafa Márquez, as well as the US director of FCBEscola, Franc Carbo.
"If I had this opportunity, it certainly would have helped me learn earlier what I learned at a more advanced age," said Márquez. “I think this is a good opportunity for all the kids, American kids, to learn the best football with the best football club."
The Mexican international will serve as a spokesman for the camps, but said he will not have a hands-on role while his current club season is in full swing.
Barcelona's FCBEscola, in its original US form two years ago, comprised only 375 children in Miami. This summer's huge expansion will increase that number nearly ten-fold as the camp goes coast to coast.
Carbo says that growth is a direct product of the successful number of world-renowned homegrown players who have come from Barcelona's camps in Spain. The Spanish club will bring its techniques to the American youth with four basic points: effort, humbleness, sacrifice and fair play.
“First of all, we want to teach American kids to play how we play," Carbo said. "The Barcelona football club has a special DNA that we want to transmit to the American kids."
Carbo added that with the growth of FCBEscola this summer, the club is also looking at developing permanent training centers in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
“We didn’t come here just to come and go," stressed Castillo. "We came here to plant the seed. We’ll make it grow, we want to be here for a long time and this is the first step."
As far as American talent goes, Carbo said they always have their eyes open in case just the right player comes along, but it’s not a priority.
“Our main objective is not to seek the next Lionel Messi, we just want to show our way of playing football and make it closer to the American people,” Carbo said.