FC Barcelona has announced that they will be opening a soccer school (FCBEscola) in Spruce Grove. For those who follow soccer or sports closely will understand that this is a BIG deal. FC Barcelona is easily one of the greatest soccer teams to ever exist and they’ve been dominating the Spanish and European leagues for the last decade. It’s surprising and unexpected to hear because FC Barcelona only have 19 programs in the world and only two other programs like this in Canada, so for them to choose Spruce Grove is massive news. FCBEscola has produced some all-time greats such as Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Carlos Puyol and arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport, Lionel Messi. We are talking about a club that has produced generational players on a consistent basis over the course of half a century or so.
The whole purpose of the program is to teach kids in Canada the famous philosophy of FC Barcelona. It’s to produce talent that can go onto play post-secondary soccer or perhaps even professional soccer. The Spanish giants will send a technical director from Barcelona to Spruce Grove to set up a foundation. The Technical Director will then employ local coaches to help run the academy program, which is pretty cool for all coaches because I know for a fact no coach (including me) ever thought they could get the opportunity to work for a club like FC Barcelona.
The big question is will the program be a big success in Spruce Grove? I personally think so. The prices are reasonable, which is important. When parents want to know about a soccer program the first two questions they ask are, How much does it cost and how often do they practice? FCBEscola offer two options, you can register a child between the ages of 8-14 for either $1,250 per player for the once-a-week program to nearly $3,000 for the three-times-a-week program. The program runs for 22 weeks, which is well worth it. Coaching is always the next question, who is the coach and how good is he? Well, we don’t know exactly who is being sent to run the program, but what I can tell you is, you can’t be a bad coach and work for a club like Barcelona. A club that has produced some of the greatest players on a regular basis and a club that competes on all fronts on a consistent basis is guaranteed to have good experienced coaching. You can’t work for a club like that if you aren’t the best at your job.
The only issue that can potentially arise from this situation is the fact that it’s a program that isn’t sanctioned by the Alberta Soccer Program (A.S.A) or by any of the local leagues. This is an issue because members of A.S.A can’t participate in the academy in any possible way, which is an issue because all the best coaches are apart of A.S.A so who would end up running the FCBEscola program once it was up and running. Also, if local leagues and local clubs can’t circulate information to it’s players about the camp then what will the quality of soccer be like? IF FCBEscola takes the good players than will the quality of local youth soccer in Edmonton as a whole drop? Is this good for the long-term development program of our province or country? Also, if the top players decide to stay in local leagues then will the FCBEscola have any players of real quality? If they don’t, they may reconsider this whole program and who knows how long it will be around for, which is a shame because it should be an honour for our city to have the likes of FC Barcelona start a program in Spruce Grove. If FC Barcelona can get sanctioned by A.S.A or the Canadian Soccer Association than we can all work together and try to develop players to the best of their potential and we will be more likely to succeed in doing that. But if there is this divide than either local soccer will take a big hit or FC Barcelona may decide to relocate themselves and believe me I am sure they aren’t short of options.