Denis Silva: My First Few Weeks at Barça Academy

Since my arrival at Barça Academy in Casa Grande on August 5th, I´ve experienced a lot of new things and have the incredible feeling that every moment of the day I am learning, minute after minute, beat after beat. After two seasons training young players at Atlético de Madrid and seven more at FC Barcelona, all I can say is: the sports culture here in the U.S. is incredibly different from the culture in Spain. Here the players and coaches are extremely hard working and it makes a big difference. The hard work they put towards getting better and their focus for continual development are both amazing. This is the first thing I noticed the moment I arrived here and believe we will do great things at Barça Academy. I already accept this as fact.

As we have progressed through preseason training the players are starting to understand the new style of play and enjoying it. Playing in the FC Barcelona style and methodology every morning and afternoon and forming bonds between each other while living and studying together are all more than just a simple reality – they’re becoming a way of life. All these feelings make this awesome sports facility a very special environment for all the people who live here.

The players and coaches have all shown a real hunger to learn and play a fun style of soccer where we have the BALL through continued possession, play as a real team, and work to recover the BALL when we lose possession. We want to be the owners of the BALL; it’s ours and we want to keep it. I’m writing “BALL” in capital letters because its importance should not go unnoticed or unstated. Our training sessions are only focused on the BALL – what to do when we have it, what to do when we lose it – all together and with the same team-focused ideas.

This preseason has been great for everyone here including me, of course. I am really glad when the players, the coaches – Sean, Ged, Brady, Ramiz, our scout Miha, the trainer Scott, and Gwen our AR say thank you to me, but really it is I who needs to say thank you to all the people working here because they are incredible. I am impressed by their human quality and for the work mentality they have – all are completely focused on improving this new project. As a result, I have a feeling that Barça Academy will be soon be one of the best academies in the U.S. We are starting to do different things in soccer here and whether the BALL is gained in possession in the back or lost in attack, the goalkeeper is the first attacker and the striker the first defender. This is only the beginning. I always say that those who don’t risk and do things differently will never win in the future.

Some of my friends at FC Barcelona’s La Masia are very curious about this new project in the U.S. and ask me about the level of the players. My answer has always been the same. After these two weeks of starting from scratch and watching our players, their individual level is good!!! The problem is when they play the matches, they don´t play as a real team yet and aren’t playing together as one. This is where I think my job will be hardest and continuous. It is my job to make each player understand they are involved in a team sport and need to be very connected on the pitch with other players using the same styles and ideas. The eleven players need to think as one, focus on the team, their teammates, and again, the BALL. Players cannot only think about themselves.

Looking ahead to our first U.S. Soccer Development Academy match on September 2nd, I don´t really know the level of the teams in the league and also I don´t know if our teams will win the matches (really, I am not worried about the winning right now), but I have an intuition: we will play with the BALL and play with the same mentality. We will win and lose with our game style.

Our style is not negotiable and neither are the education and respect for each other. It doesn´t matter if it is a teammate, a rival, a referee, or parents, it is imperative for us to treat everyone equally and with the same level of respect. We will enjoy playing soccer, we will enjoy living and studying here in Casa Grande, we will enjoy winning and losing, and we will enjoy learning everyday. I will enjoy my new work with the American players and coaches, which I am already doing.

Thank you for trust in me.

Denis Silva

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