An Expert Tour of Barcelona Created for Youth Soccer Coaches
In January 2019, Premier International Tours organized a trip for 60 coaches and team managers who are traveling in 2019 with the company. Premier International Tours covers the costs for the flights, accommodation, meals, match tickets, and top-flight coaching education sessions. The coaches tour RCD Espanyol as well as the Camp Nou stadium, home of FC Barcelona and visit the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, the training facilities of FC Barcelona and home to the new La Masia of FC Barcelona.
Annually, Premier International Tours organizes a coaches’ tour. This year, I had the privilege of traveling with them to Barcelona, Spain on the Premier International Tours Soccer Coach trip. There were 36 coaches on the tour from youth soccer clubs and colleges across America.
One of the most noteworthy was Coach Vince Ganzberg, the Education Content Coordinator for United Soccer Coaches and a national instructor for U. S. Soccer. Coach Ganzberg’s credentials and experiences comprise a long list. In 2018 Ganzberg received the 2017 US Youth Soccer Excellence in Youth Coaching Education Award, “The Dr. Thomas Fleck Award.”
Of course, such a trip begins with a flight or two. Unexpectedly, my journey ended up with three flights. Due to high winds in Newark, NJ, my flight from Dallas, TX was delayed by almost three hours. Consequence? I missed the connecting flight to Barcelona.
Ah, the glamor of travel. I was rerouted to London, England. Then a leisurely three-hour layover in Heathrow.
Finally, I landed in Barcelona about six hours behind schedule.
Program Barcelona Coaches Tour 2019
Friday evening, we had time to relax and try to synchronize to the time zone, a seven-hour difference for me. I had a drink with Vince Ganzberg and his wife Amy. Vince and I talked shop just a little bit as he and I, along with Drs. Ron Quinn and David Carr, are revising the curriculum of the National Youth Diploma. Some of you know the course as the National Youth License or the National Youth Coaching Course. The National Youth Diploma will begin a new life this summer with United Soccer Coaches.
Friday, February 1st, 2019
10.30 hours Arrive at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat, Home of RCD Espanyol for a Youth coaching and development seminar with RCD Academy Staff.
14.00 hours Arrive at the Nou Camp, Home of FC Barcelona and visit the Superstore.
14.30 hours Camp Nou Stadium Tour.
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
Saturday began with youth games at La Mesia in the training grounds of F. C. Barcelona. We watched 7v7 games with the 10 and Under and the 12 and Under teams, am 11v11 match with the 14 and Under boys and a pre-match day training session of the women’s team.
For the afternoon, the tour took us to the grounds of Espanyol.
The matches for the afternoon ranged from 8 and Under to 16 and Under, as is the case throughout Europe and now the U.S.A. too, the pre-teen teams play small-sided soccer.
11.15 hours Depart for FC Barcelona Joan Gamper Training Ground – Program Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper:
12.00 FCB ‘B’ Cadet Boys vs Esportiva ‘A’; 12.00 FCB ‘A’ Infantil Girls vs San Pedro
13.00 hours Depart for Ciutat Esportiva Dani Jarque (training complex of RCD Espanyol). Attend RCDE (youth and Women) Matches – Program Ciutat Esportiva Dani Jarque: 13.30 RCDE ‘A’ Alevi Boys vs Cornella ‘A’; 13.30 RCDE ‘B’ Benjamin Boys vs Grama ‘A’; 15.00 RCDE ‘A’ Infantil Boys vs Sant Gabriel
16.15 hours Depart for the Camp Nou Stadium to watch the FC Barcelona vs Valencia game, kick-off 18.30 21.00 hours.
After the youth games, we departed for the big event, F. C. Barcelona versus Valencia. The atmosphere inside and outside the stadium was joyful and passionate.
[Video of musicians]
Sunday, February 3rd, 2019
Sunday was full of yet more wonderful soccer from the women’s pro teams to the kids matches. During a game for the U8 boys, it was a pleasure to witness a referee live up to the primary job of care of the players. In this instance, a boy’s shoelace had come undone, so he asked the referee to tie it for him.
The referee stopped the match, kneeled, gave the boy his whistle to hold and then tied the shoe. He stood up, the boy gave back the whistle and the game resumed. Now that’s keeping it all in perspective!
09.15 hours Depart Hotel for Ciutat Esportiva Dani Jarque (training complex of RCD Espanyol). Attend RCDE (youth and Women) Matches. Program Ciutat Esportiva Dani Jarque: 10.00 RCDE ‘A’ Alevi Girls vs Torello; 10.00 RCDE ‘B’ Juvenil Girls vs Sant Gabriel
11.15 hours Depart RCD Espanyol for FC Barcelona Joan Gamper Training Ground – Program Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper: 12.00 FCB ‘B’ Infantil Boys vs Gimnastic Tarragona; 12.00 FCB ‘D’ Benjamin Boys vs Viladecans, FCB Women ‘B’ vs AEM and FCB Juvenil Boys ‘A’ vs Cornella.
14.00 hours FC Barcelona Women vs Albacete at the FCB Mini Stadion.
16.00 hours Arrive at Hotel Catalonia Atenas for Q & A Session with our Panel: Laurent Papillon, Technical Director of Youth Academy at FC Servette (Switzerland), Ruben Martinez, Asst Head Coach at Olympiacos FC (Greece), ex-FC Barcelona, Watford FC, Brighton & Hove Albion FC, Red Bull Salzburg & St. Etienne and Xavi Guila, Director of Talent Dev Tech, Analysis advisor and Supplier to FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich.
Previously I have attended a session on the general style of play by the first team at FC Barcelona. Following are two slides from a presentation that show the basic setup from which the team plays. That general setup may vary dependent on player availability for a match, the strategy for an opponent, etc.
It was obvious though that from the U8 players to the women’s and the men’s first teams that the style of play is the same. It was fun to watch the children’s teams often take the ball to the goal line and then pass back toward the top of the penalty area where two runners made their way to the ball for a shot. It’s a simple tactic that I’d love to see more American youth teams utilize.
Monday, February 3rd, 2019
Time to fly home and overcome jet lag one more time!