Premier International Tours recently completed its annual Barcelona Coaches Tour which took place February 1-4. This is an annual trip that Premier International Tours organizes for coaches of teams that travel with us, and this year we had 60 coaches and team managers on the tour from teams are traveling in 2019 with Premier International Tours. Also, special guests and Coaches of the Year from partner organizations like US Youth Soccer were invited. Premier International Tours paid for the flights, accommodation, meals, match tickets and coaching education sessions! This trip is our way of giving back to soccer in North America as this is a very valuable learning experience for the coaches and they can take what they learn back to their teams/clubs.
The group of 60 people arrived on Friday, February 1st, and started off with a visit to Estadi Cornella-El Prat, stadium of RCD Espanyol, where the coaches sat in on a presentation from Albert Villarroya, the director of RCD Espanyol’s Escola program (RCD Espanyol Soccer School). The presentation highlighted Espanyol’s player development structure, club philosophy and methodology. After the session the visiting coaches took a tour of the Espanyol stadium. After their visit with RCD Espanyol the group went to the Camp Nou stadium, home of FC Barcelona, for a tour of the FC Barcelona museum and stadium, including a field level look at the stadium.
On Saturday morning the group visited the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, the training facilities of FC Barcelona and home to the new La Masia of FC Barcelona. The group got a chance to check out the facilities and got a special treat by watching the U12 FC Barcelona boys team play as well as the FC Barcelona women’s team train in preparation for their match the next day. After this, the group went to the RCD Espanyol’s training facilities, Dani Jarque Complex, and watched some of the RCD Espanyol youth teams play and train. That evening, which was certainly the highlight of the tour, Premier International Tours took the coaches to see the La Liga match between FC Barcelona vs. Valencia at Camp Nou! The stadium was packed with a raucous crowd cheering on one of the best teams in the world. Valencia took the early lead going up two goals, but then the best player in the world, Messi, took over and scored two goals for FC Barcelona to rescue the team to a 2-2 tie.
Sunday morning we took the coaches back to the Joan Gamper complex where the coaches got to see the FC Barcelona U18 boys and U10 boys teams play matches at the complex. Sunday afternoon Premier International Tours organized a coaches Q&A panel with some high level coaches in Europe. The panel included: Xavi Guila - Director of Talent Dev Tech, Analysis Advisor and supplier to FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich; Reuben Martinez - former goalkeeper of FC Barcelona’s 2nd team, former goalkeeper coach at English pro clubs Watford and Brighton Hove Albion and Assistant Coach at Greek pro club Olympiacos; Laurent Papillon – Director of the Youth Academy at Swiss pro club FC Servette and Technical Advisor to the French Soccer Federation. The Q&A session was a great opportunity for the North American coaches to get some feedback about how European clubs develop their youth players and the club structure of the top European clubs. In the afternoon some of the group did some sightseeing in Barcelona while other coaches watched the FC Barcelona women’s team play Albicete in the mini-stadium of FC Barcelona located right next to Camp Nou. The tour was capped off that evening with Premier International Tours treating the group to an amazing Spanish style dinner with Paella at La Fonda restaurant in the Olympic Port in Barcelona.
Premier International Tours would like to thank FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol for giving our coaches special access to their clubs, and to the panel of coaches that gave some great information during the coaches Q&A panel – thanks for making it an amazing trip for our group! We would like to thank all the coaches and managers as well for booking their international team with us!