How to clone Lionel Messi? Set up a Barcelona soccer school in Argentina.
That was the thinking behind the Catalan club’s project when they decided to look for more Argentine talent to nurture in their rich, world famous youth scheme.
Barcelona Junior Lujan was set up in 2007 as a subsidiary of the Spanish giants in a Buenos Aires suburb, recruiting and preparing boys to fulfill their dream of reaching clubs in Argentina’s first division.
Director Jorge Raffo spoke in an interview about the care and education of boys between the ages of nine and 12 and the possibility that one of them might become a top performer like Messi or Diego Maradona, Mario Kempes and Enrique Omar Sivori before him.
“The junior project respects the essence of the Argentine footballer through his quality, individuality, intellectual development and teamwork, to return to the source and find those great players of our history, like Maradona, Messi, Kempes or Sivori,” Raffo said. “When we work with nine, 10 and 11-year-olds we don’t know if a kid is going to be a footballer, but we do know he’s going to be a person. So we’re particularly aware, specifically in this place, that the kids must be supported, accompanied, educated and not pressured.”
General manager Daniel Vitali, Barcelona’s legal representative in Argentina, said one of their main concerns was handling the uprooting of the boys.
“Messi’s was a case in point. He left when he was 12, it was very painful for him and his family, the uprooting process,” Vitali said. “One of our objectives is to avoid kids leaving Argentina when they are very young, so we aim for them to develop in their own place, with their people, their family, in their country.”
The boys in the project, aged nine to 16, who arrive from all corners of Argentina through scouts and talent spotters, are required to study at Don Bosco School, one of the leading schools in Buenos Aires Province.
The soccer school has about 45 boarders and another 150 boys who live at home and train at the school every day.
“The 45 kids are the ones that go to Don Bosco school, they live here with us, they return to their homes five times a year and their parents also come here to visit them three or four times a year,” Vitali said.
The school applies the same training methods as those used at Barcelona.
“On the sporting side, Barcelona have given us a whole methodology we follow to the letter. We are obliged to show a development and sporting model quite different from that which has existed so far here in Argentina,” Raffo said.
He said that there is a regular exchange of information with the Catalan club through video footage of training sessions.
For the coaches, soccer is the excuse to teach a set of values to the boys so that, if they do not make it as players, they will not be reproached for not having fulfilled their dreams.
“As we always say, we are competing in two tournaments, a football tournament and a human one — who’s going to become an architect, lawyer, accountant,” Raffo said.
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being