La Masia de BarcaMore than a School
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, Spain, and designated as a world-class city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network. It is an important cultural centre with a rich heritage, and has become a major tourist destination. The city is synonymous with the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí. His most renowned work is the immense, but still unfinished church of the Sagrada Família.
Barcelona has a long sporting tradition. It hosted the highly successful 1992 Summer Olympics as well as several matches during the 1982 FIFA World Cup. FC Barcelona is a sports club known globally for its football team, one of the biggest in Europe. Three-time winners of the UEFA Champions League, they are the only club in the world to accomplish a sextuple. FC Barcelona's Camp Nou (New Field) is the largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 100,000.
In the shadows of the stadium stands a small, unassuming, brown-brick house, built in 1702 in the traditional Catalan style. Once a country residence, La Masia - is a footballing school par excellence. It has been part of the history and heritage of Futbol Club Barcelona since October 20, 1979.
La Masia has been the foundation of Barca's success. It provides the DNA for the club's players, the philosophy for how the game should be played - to pressure, to keep possession, to attack. The aim of the youth academy is to develop not just their football skills but their lifestyle and attitudes.
La Masia produces geniuses; footballing geniuses with diplomas in tiki-taka, a Spanish noun meaning an attractive style of football using short one or two-touch passes. The three 2010 Fifa Ballon d'Or finalists Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, (and much of Barcelona's first team), would all live, sleep and eat football together as boys at La Masia.
Of great importance to the boys and their families is that it costs them nothing to stay. Players are all given free scholarships and the club pays for all the basic necessities as well paying them a modest wage. Messi, world player of the year 2010-2011, arrived with his family at La Masia from Argentina in the year 2000, when he was just 13 years old. He had a bone hormone problem which meant that he was just 4ft 6in – the average boy that age is 5ft 5in. No Argentinian club would pay for the drugs he needed to treat his growth deformity. Despite the fact he was half a foot shorter than his peers, Barcelona took him on and the specialists soon resolved the problem. Messi went on to score five goals on his youth-team debut.
FC Barcelona has been a counter-cultural force in world football, a model of integrity with a vital role played by fans in terms of the ownership, success and culture of the Catalan club. La Masia is closing its doors at the end of the 2010-11 season to be replaced by a new, larger facility. As the club motto proclaims; Barcelona is more than just a club ‘Mes Que Un Club’, and La Masia is more than just a football school ‘Mes Que Un Escola’!
'As a kid they teach you not to play to win but to grow in ability as a player.'
We're always looking for a type of player who's not physical but a very good thinker, who's ready to take decisions, who has talent, technique and agility. Physical strength is not important.'
Carles Folguera La Masia director