Over 45 coaches from across North America just returned from the annual Premier International Tours Barcelona Coaches Tour, which took place January 31-February 3, 2020. This is an annual special trip that is organized for the coaches of the teams that travel with Premier International Tours. The trip also includes coaches from our partner organizations like US Youth Soccer, including the 2019 USYS Boys and Girls Coaches of the Year. Premier International Tours paid for the flights, accommodation, meals, tickets to an FC Barcelona match 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 first day of the tour, Friday, started off with a visit to Estadi Cornella-El Prat, stadium of RCD Espanyol, where Pol Garcia, Espanyol Academy Coach, gave a presentation which highlighted Espanyol’s player development structure, club philosophy and methodology. After the session the visiting coaches took a tour of the Espanyol stadium. Then, the group proceeded onward 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 the way back to the hotel the group made a stop to take in one of the most beautiful sights in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia.
The second day of the tour, Saturday, started off with some sightseeing in Barcelona. This included a walk along Las Ramblas and around the Gothic Quarter as well as a visit to Montjuic and the Olympic Stadium. After this the group headed to the newly built Johan Cruyff Stadium, next to FC Barcelona’s training facilities, to see the FC Barcelona Women’s team play Sevilla. After a scoreless first half FC Barcelona capitalized on the many chances they had in the second half and ran away with a 3-0 win. After this, the group went to RCD Espanyol’s training facilities, the Dani Jarque Complex, to watch a youth “Derby” match between the U14 RCD Espanyol and U14 FC Barcelona youth teams, who are the #1 and #2 teams in their league. The game lived up to the hype as it ended in an exciting 2-2 tie with FC Barcelona scoring the equalizing goal late in the game. That evening, Premier International Tours treated all the coaches to another fantastic Spanish style Paella dinner at La Fonda restaurant in the Olympic Port in Barcelona.
On Sunday, the third day of the tour, the group started off with a visit to Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, the training facilities of FC Barcelona. The group got a chance to check out the facilities and watched some of the FC Barcelona youth teams play, including a U10 match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol, in which Espanyol won! Some of the coaches in the group were even lucky enough to meet former Dutch International Star Patrick Kluivert at the complex as he is the Academy Director at FC Barcelona! That afternoon, Premier International Tours organized a coaches Q&A panel at the complex of Spanish amateur club Jabac, which is a club where former FC Barcelona stars Xavi and Busquets played. The panel included some top coaching and soccer minds from Europe:
Jordi Vinyals – former FC Barcelona U19 Head Coach, Champions League winner, and ex-Coach of Chinese 2nd Division
Xavi Guila – Talent Development Tech, (Analysis systems for FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich & Manchester City)
Dani Hernandez, Coordinator of the Jabac Academy U10 program and RCD Espanyol U10 Coach (who beat FC Barcelona earlier in the day)
Laurent Papillon – Former Director of the Youth Academy at Swiss pro club FC Servette, Technical Advisor to the French Soccer Federation and Assistant Coach of the Chinese Women’s National team.
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. Many of the coaches in the group commented that the coaches panel was definitely one of the highlights of the trip as they learned a lot about youth development in Spain compared to the U.S.
That evening, Premier International Tours took the coaches to see the La Liga match between FC Barcelona vs. Levante at Camp Nou! In true form, Messi did not fail to impress, as he assisted on two goals which was enough for FC Barcelona to prevail 2-1 in a closer than expected match.
Premier International Tours would like to thank FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol and amateur club Jabac for giving our coaches special access to their clubs, and to the panel of coaches that shared some great information and made the trip a great learning experience for the North American coaches. Here are comments from some of the coaches who were on the tour:
“Thanks again for a great weekend. Getting a preview of what the team will do is invaluable to me. In addition, the sessions you had set up for us were tremendous and a great opportunity to network and connect with other coaches around the world. This was a first class experience.” Corbett Hess – Boys Technical Director at Excel Soccer Academy
“I really appreciate everything you did for us! I had a ton of fun and learned a lot. I brought back what I learned to the club this week. I hope to use the knowledge I acquired to make myself a better coach.” Danny Bolam - Junior Academy Director NEFC Wachusett
“Thanks again for a fantastic weekend in Spain. I had such a good time and am even more excited than before to take my group there in a few weeks! I am so impressed with PIT and the level of quality you provide.” Jeff Ingwersen – Coach Fraser Valley FC (Canada)