A group of talented young Auckland-based footballers have just embarked on the trip of a lifetime after jetting off to Spain to train at the mighty FC Barcelona.
Members of the Central United U-15 team will get an insight into life as a professional footballer and witness the skills of the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar first hand during their fortnight-long stay at the Catalan giants.
The unique opportunity came up through Central’s links with Auckland City, which has established a relationship with Barcelona in recent years.
The squad is coached by Auckland City player and former All White Adam McGeorge, who is just as excited about the Spanish sojourn as his young charges.
“All the boys are absolutely buzzing and the coaching staff are as well,” says McGeorge, who is joined in mentoring the team by Paul Posa, the man who led Auckland City to a fifth-place finish at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009.
“I think there’s a little bit of uncertainty of going into the unknown as well and it might take them a little while to get their feet on the ground once they’re over there. But I think they will be pleasantly surprised at what they can do.”
The Central youngsters will get the chance to train under the tutelage of coaches from the Barcelona academy, see how their abilities match up against the club’s young players, meet the first team squad and tour the famous Camp Nou stadium in a whirlwind couple of weeks.
McGeorge says there is plenty of talent in the side, which plays up a year in the 16th Grade Metro competition in Auckland, and is confident that will be reflected in a favourable comparison with the Barcelona up-and-comers.
“It will be a huge opportunity for the boys to be able to compare themselves with others in the same age group who are privileged enough to be in that environment. At that age, I think they can probably foot it with those guys, it’s just a matter of them realising that themselves.”
Midfielder Alasdair Tremlett is looking to soak up all he can from the Barcelona environment.
“This is a one-off opportunity so we have to make the most of it,” the 14-year-old says.
“I’m sure we will learn a lot from the young Barcelona players as they will be the next generation of stars like Lionel Messi. Playing against and training with that kind of quality will also show us the kind of level we need to be at if we want to become professionals.”
His coach feels that aspect of the trip is one of the most significant.
“To get over there and see the standards that are required, both on and off the field, will be invaluable,” McGeorge says.
“Paul Posa has got a saying he uses all the time which is: ‘A professional attitude costs nothing’. That’s something we’re trying to ingrain in the boys. We just want to make sure they make the most of the experience.”
Story by Auckland Football
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