Official Barca Academy Kicks Off – Exclusive Interview with Academy Director Sean McCafferty
The question on everyone’s mind is how real — authentic — is the Barca Academy at Casa Grande in Arizona? The answer is simple, it is the real deal just like the FCBEscola’s around the world and the Long Island Academy.
This is not a program using the famous name, this is the world class club coming to the USA in full force to look at developing top American-based youth talent.
The famous Futbol Club Barcelona, commonly known as Barça, is one of the ultra top professional soccer clubs in the world. Kicked off over a century ago in 1899, it is known for being ‘more than a club’ — “Més que un club”— and is home to Lionel Messi.
In fact, Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Pep Guardiola and Xavi are among the graduates of Barcelona’s exclusive youth academy La Masia — arguably the world’s most famous player development program.
The simple answer is yes. The Barca Academy at Casa Grande is the real thing. Bringing the philosophy of the one and only La Masia — with Barca coaches from Spain living and training on site, this is the first and only official, full-time FC Barcelona youth residency academy in the world — besides La Masia in Barcelona Spain. And scholarships are available.
The residency academy is open to players ages 13-19 and is attracting top players from the U.S. and around the world.
Much like the Farmhouse in Barcelona, Spain, Casa Grande in Arizona provides a protected and unique environment for player development. This official soccer residency and training program has La Masia coaches on their full time staff plus — as confirmed by Jared Micklos / Development Academy Director — Grande Sports Academy/FCB is a U.S. Soccer Development Academy member.
It is really the beginning of a new era in youth soccer development.
Imagine the Barca player development philosophy in a world class facility with all the advantages and benefits of being a U.S. Soccer Development Academy with a proven track record of success? With 8 professional grade fields, soccer tennis courts, professional caliber locker rooms, hot and cold plunge therapy pools plus a swimming pool — this could very well be youth soccer heaven.
Diane Scavuzzo interviewed Barca Academy Director Sean McCafferty to discover more.
Diane Scavuzzo: What makes this new Barca Academy so special?
Sean McCafferty: This is the destination for top players looking to go to the next level.
We sit on top of the Barca pyramid in the USA. We are absolutely following the same proven coaching philosophy as used to train players at La Masia in Barcelona, Spain.
Talk about producing players — it doesn’t get better than Barcelona.
The biggest differentiator is we have two highly trained coaches from La Masia living and training with us.
No other program has this level of interaction. This partnership brings youth soccer player development in the USA to a whole new level.
This partnership between FC Barcelona and Case Grande shows the progress of youth soccer in the USA – all the entire world is starting to see how American youths can make an impact in soccer.
U.S. Soccer’s hard work — and that of top MLS and youth soccer clubs in America — is starting to show fruition. Our top soccer players are good enough to go to Europe and live there — making it as professional soccer players.
We have that direct link, we can send players to FC Barcelona and they will be sending teams to visit here and play our teams.
Our approach is holistically develop the whole player and academics are important — it goes hand-in-hand — it is vitally important to us that our youth soccer players show the same responsibility in the classroom as on the field.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the biggest difference from being an MLS Academy to becoming Barca Academy?
Sean McCafferty: The biggest difference is no more territory — we can recruit players from all over the USA and we have been receiving emails and calls from across the country.
Diane Scavuzzo: How hard is it to gain a roster spot at the Barca Academy?
Sean McCafferty: We are carefully evaluating players at our Barca Summer Camps and at youth soccer tryouts. It is highly competitive. Arizona has a lot of talented youth soccer players and there is a very deep pool of talent in Southern California and the surrounding areas as well.
Getting in here is the easy part, it is staying in here that is the hard part.
Diane Scavuzzo: How many players will you have on your academy teams?
Sean McCafferty: We will roster 20 kids per team. We do not want to keep big rosters. We want to be as committed to our players as they are to us.
Diane Scavuzzo: How many teams will you have?
Sean McCafferty: We will have a total of 5 teams with approximately 70 residential kids plus players coming in for the day.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the traits needed to succeed and thrive?
Sean McCafferty: Players need to be responsible, have good integrity, be mature.
That is why the three day ID camp gives us a better idea of what type of person a player is.
Talent is just a small part of what it takes to be successful — it really is.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does it take to be successful?
Sean McCafferty: For players looking to go to the next level, it takes commitment. What are they willing to sacrifice to reach their goals?
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you look for most in a player?
Sean McCafferty: #1 is commitment — the ability to do more. Our players will be training 5 days a week.
We are in the business of developing individuals. Teams do not sign contracts.
Team success is a by product of individual development. Why do we exist? We exist to help players maximize their potential — to guide and assist the players we have.
Diane Scavuzzo: So many people talk about winning games on the weekends or the standings of a team. What do you think?
Sean McCafferty: Game results are not the most important to us — individual development is what we focus on as individuals sign pro contracts and individuals commit to playing at top collegiate programs.
Learning to win is a part of a player’s individual development, especially for those who go on to play professional soccer. We care about winning, we just won’t sacrifice individual development or our style of play/principles to win a game.
And, being a Barca Academy, we have no home grown restrictions — so I am sure MLS teams will be watching our players too.
It is not a coincidence that we have and will produce players who are committed and are willing to put in the extra work — these are the players who will reap the rewards of their efforts.
Editorial Note: Originally published June 15, 2017
Visit the Barça Academy website for more information but here are two additional details:
- U.S. Soccer has given Case Grande the Best Soccer Training Facility award for three consecutive years — and with a hotel and golf course adjacent to the training fields for the parents— this can be the perfect summer soccer camp choice.
- Barca Academy Core values reflect great sportsmanship — honesty, integrity, respect, humility, discipline, commitment and teamwork