Sport | Football

A touch of Barcelona magic in Dubai

Coaches from the Catalan club academy set out on a mission to discover talent.

  • By Rohan Alvares, Sports Reporter
  • Published: 08:48 February 5, 2009

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Sankha Kar
  • Fun and games:The young trainees hone their skills with an FC BEscola coach.
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Dubai Renowned across the world for producing talents such as Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona's youth academy have now set up shop in Dubai with serious hopes of unearthing more footballing gems.

FC BEscola, a youth football academy affiliated to the Catalan giants opened at the Raffles International School in Jumeirah last September.

And though still in its early days, technical director Josep Gombau believes the project will steadily deliver the results it is aspiring towards.

“We are here [in Dubai] for this reason,'' said a smiling Gombau on the sidelines of a football carnival day organised by the Academy. “This is [part] of a very big project around the world and now we have opened a school in Dubai where we have around 140 boys.'' Since 1997, Gombau has worked with several Spanish football academies and currently holds the Level 3 Soccer Coaching Badge – the premier licence awarded to him by the Catalan FA which entitles him to coach from grassroots to international level.

So what's his take on the standard of youth football in Dubai? “The level is normal here. It's not as high as it is at Barca, but the boys are just beginning. And what's important is they learn the basic technical skills like running with the ball, dribbling and shooting,'' said the 32-year-old Catalan.

Talk of a bright prospect from FC BEscola, Dubai, playing in Barcelona's star studded first-team in the near future might sound premature, but Gombau revealed: “On February 12, we will pick the most technically skilled player. He will have a chance to travel to Barcelona for a trial, so there is a possibility [he may get signed]. He will be there for a week, watch the first team in action and also get to meet the players.''

Niklas Kruse, nine, was one of three players from Dubai who travelled to Poland for a tournament last December. “In the beginning I didn't want him to go,'' said his mother Fanny. “It was too long and he's so young, but he decided he wanted to go. But I saw that everything was so professional and well organised that if I have to let him go again, I will not hesitate. I won't even go with him.''

With other football academies also based in the region, academy director Seif Tawfik highlighted what would separate FC BEscola from the rest. “Here kids will develop their overall skills, not just football,'' said Tawfik. “We pay great attention to discipline and punctuality.

If a child comes late, he is not allowed to train. If he misbehaves, then he is sent off. So we give them the whole package of how to be a real footballer.''

Barca Bites

  • Venue: Raffles International School, Jumeirah, (Umm Suqeim West campus)
  • Session times: Sunday and Tuesday 6.15pm; Monday, Thursday and Saturday 5.15pm (Five times a week, with match days being held on Thursdays and Saturdays)
  • How you can enrol your child: Contact FC BEscola director Seif Tawfik on 04-391 5038 or 050-854 6885