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FCB Escola Coach Arnau Blanco

“Do you like Messi?” K-Drama fans would probably know where this line came from, but do you have any idea what helps athletes like Lionel Messi and the rest of Spanish football club FC Barcelona (FCB) to succeed in their sport? MB Life interviewed a youth coach from the team to get some first-person insight on the recent football craze.

We were able to catch Coach Arnau Blanco last weekend at the sidelines of the MILO FCB Road to Barcelona Training Camp–a two-day football training camp under the youth coaches of the esteemed FC Barcelona Escola from Spain. He visited the Philippines to teach 10 to 12-year-old kids about football skills and promote values best learned through the sport at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig City, along with Coach Marti Vila.

Despite being under the heat of the sun for hours, he gladly entertained our questions about how they coach in order for us to fully understand the true essence of the sport.

What does it take to build a winning team?

“I think that a winning team is a team who play as a team. The most important thing is that they become like a family. You can win if you have a team where [each player] can feel free, enjoy, and learn. With these, they’ll have more chances of winning.”

Coach Arnau shows video clips of how FC Barcelona athletes play on the field before sharing tips and tricks to the kids.

What’s the best value that FC Barcelona has that helps them win?

“We don’t have one value that is considered as the best one. I think the kids and the players have a lot of values and we educate them through football,” explained Coach Arnau, who has already been used to traveling to different countries with other coaches in hopes of promoting the sport through extensive training sessions. “We don’t consider having one value better than the others. Football is not only about the game. You share moments with your teammates, opponents, coaches, and the referees… The most important thing is that they grow not just as players, but also as a person.”

Can you mention some values that are essential?

“We always speak about HEART. We have humility, effort, ambition, respect, and teamwork. These are the five main values that we have in the club, but we also work with other values that we can [apply] in real-life.”

For you, what makes football special?

“For me, it’s passion. It’s passion to be a coach. It’s a passion because I see the players enjoying every training session and every match and for me, I feel very good when I see the players smiling and enjoying an amazing sport like this, which is football.”

What’s the first step that aspiring football players need to take to make it to the international stage?

“My advice is to enjoy what they do, while they’re young. If they enjoy what they do, it will be easy for them to improve and improve, and someday, if they are good enough, they may make it to the top of the sport.”

(L-R) MILO Philippines Sports Executive Robbie De Vera, host Amanda Fernandez, FCB Coaches Arnau Blanco and Marti Vila, MILO Philippines Business Unit Manager Willy de Ocampo, and Philippine Football Federation’s Grassroots Development Officer Aquilino Pastoral III poses for the press during the opening ceremony of FC Barcelona’s Training Camp.

Can you give tips on how young ones can level up their training?

“They have to understand the game. They have to understand what’s happening in the field. If they understand the game and become smart, they will improve faster.”

Why is it important for our generation to start playing football or other sports?

For Coach Arnau, it’s essential to maintain the continuous cycle where every generation finds a certain person or team that can serve as an inspiration for them to also join the game: “When people start playing football, of course, the new generation will see in them that they enjoy playing the sport and would [be encouraged] to try, too.”

How was your experience in teaching the Filipino players, so far?

“We are really happy with them here in the MILO clinic that we are doing. They have enjoyed a lot this morning. You see the kids smiling, you see that they improve, you see that they enjoy, that they try to understand our philosophy, they want to pass the ball, get the ball, play as a team, and introduce values in the team. For us, it is important to see that Filipinos are trying to share this experience from Barcelona.”

Before the camp ended, all players held hands and formed a circle before shouting a cheer taught by the FCB coaches. So inspiring!

The champion journey for the kids who participated in the MILO FCB Road to Barcelona Training Camp does not end here, though. Before the year ends, 10 Pinoy kids from the Road to Barcelona selection camp will be flying to Camp Nou – FC Barcelona’s home stadium, where they will undergo world-class training with other professional coaches from FCB Escola and with kids from different parts of the world.

Who knows, the next football star to take the world by storm might just come from the Philippines.

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