GLENDALE — For four years, young soccer players in the area have had a chance to hone their skills and receive expert instruction from accomplished coaches at the annual FC Barcelona Soccer Camps.
The camps feature instruction from actual coaches in the FC Barcelona program, the famous Spanish soccer club that is one of the most popular and successful in the world.
However, until recently, it was only young players who could benefit from learning some of the same drills that are conducted by the players of the elite professional club.
That was until Frank Bagheri came up with an idea.
“A lot of the adults who would bring their children to our camps would ask us how could they get trained in what we are doing at FC Barcelona,” Bagheri said. “So it got us to thinking about what can we do about this.
“So when I was in Barcelona meeting with the heads of FCBEscola (the organization’s instruction group) I brought up the idea and they told me to go ahead and set it up and we’ll do it.”
That paved the way for coaches to experience the FC Barcelona system that a player begins to learn at age 6 and continues if he is fortunate to be picked for the professional squad.
A group of 47 coaches learned FC Barcelona techniques, coaching methods and the philosophy of the successful organization at a day-long FC Barcelona Coaches Clinic Saturday at Babe Herman Park. The organizers hope the coaches will take what they’ve learned and use it to benefit the players on their youth teams.
“We have gotten a lot of great feedback from coaches who have taken part in the clinics,” said Bagheri, the camp’s director. “They seem to enjoy the clinics and are able to learn from people who are directly involved with FC Barcelona.
“One coach even came up to me and said, ‘Frank, if I had done this when I had my U-12 team we would have beaten every U-16 team in our division.’ Things like that are nice to hear.”
One of the instructors Saturday was Dennis Puig, who works at FC Barcelona’s famed training facility, La Masia. Another was Quim Estrada, who leads the camps in Southern California as well as Seattle.
The coaches began the day at 9 a.m. with their first classroom session. The day also included two on-field training sessions, another classroom tutorial and ended with a question-and-answer session.
“They are getting a full day of instruction,” Bagheti said. “We try and include as much as we can during the clinic.”
Glendale resident Jim McCauley said there was a specific reason why we signed up for the FC Barcelona Coaches Clinic.
“I will be coaching my daughter and her team this year, so I’m trying to get some knowledge,” he said. “I’ve played, but I’ve never really coached.
“There are some great things that we learned that hopefully I’m going to be able to bring to the team.”
Sean O’Rourke of La Crescenta said one of the lures for him was the mystique and reputation of FC Barcelona.
“They really have a whole culture of excellence,” he said. “We have our own little culture of excellence here with our local AYSO, but it’s always great to learn new things and maybe get some new perspectives on how to do things.”