The breathtaking performances of FC Barcelona during the reign of Pep Guardiola changed the way the world would think about football forever. The precision passing and ruthless persistence of his possession machine became all conquering treble winners, and even more remarkably consisted of 7 home grown players & academy graduates in the teams starting 11. Unheard of in world football, these Barcelona 'kids' - including Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Busquets, Pique, Puyol, Valdes and Pedro played almost all of their formative football at FCB's La Masia Academy in the Catalan capital.
After numerous research visits out to the Academy, and extensive observation of the clubs FCB Escola coaching programme, the Catalan Soccer® coaching team decided that they had seen enough. It was time to put the wheels in motion and launch the world's first school of Catalan football. After further research at both Catalan Academies,, including RCB Espanyol and FCB themselves, and local community football clubs, the coaching team had managed to compile an extensive blueprint of the coaching methods underpinning the regions productivity in producing world class players.
Before launching the football school back here in the UK, Catalan Soccer® visited the Director of Coach Education, Sr. Israel Lopez, at the Federacio Catalana de Futbol. The director discussed at length the coaching practices he felt to the be the most relevant in the success of the current FC Barcelona and Catalan national coaching models. He went on to explain that before a Catalan coach can make a real impact on the player's technical ability, they must first build a familiarity and trust between player and coach that transcends football. Scaffolding this relationship through positive reinforcement, emotional warmth, honest communication, trust and enlightenment proved to play an instrumental part in the depth of talent that was being developed in the region. It seemed that connecting with the person, improved the coaches chances of developing the player.
Following the coaching team's 2012 study visit, Catalan Soccer School was launched in Leeds, United Kingdom. The coaching team's already established enterprise, ABC Soccer School, played a pivotal role in the initial recruitment of players into the first ever Catalan Soccer® coaching sessions. Initially for older players aged 8+, the football school piloted the first ever Spanish and Catalan themed coaching sessions in the country. A culture shock for some, players would attend sessions that were based entirely on possession, a crash course for the kids that had been used to playing high-risk, high-octane, end to end football.
how can you apply foreign coaching methods to english kids?
Whilst not the most obvious question, certainly the most important. 3 years into the Catalan Soccer revolution we have an adapted and culturally sound coaching model that integrates the best qualities of Spanish, Catalan and English footballing philosophy. The relaxed and slower version of the game played out in the glorious Spanish sunshine can, at times, seem a far cry from the frozen, bobbly pitches and trecherous conditions in which our kids are expected to play.
Playing beautiful, cohesive and flowing possession football in the middle of winter on your local council football pitch versus the local physical and competitive community team is not the easiest thing to actualise or justify. There are certain realities surrounding English culture and playing conditions that require a large degree of flexibility and an extent of compromise.
Our coaching theory goes that, it is not neccessarily the strongest or fittest that will flourish, but the most adaptable. Here at Catalan Soccer® we prepare our players for all conditions and eventualities. Winning personal battles, trying your best and showing the grit of the English fighting spirit, forms the backbone of our Catalan players DNA. Alongside that we teach the artistic, creative and thoughtful attributes of our Spanish and Catalan counterparts.
We are proud to have created our own unique and stylish brand of youth football. Whether it be a cold night in Stoke, or football festival in Rio de Janeiro, the Catalan kids have got what it takes to compete, play with humility and most importantly entertain!
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