By Paul Nicholson
February 24 – Spanish giants Barcelona have teamed up with Mission Hills, the world’s largest golf and leisure resort in Haikou, China, to launch the club’s first overseas FCB football academy directly managed by the club.
FCBEscola in Haikou will be run by FCB coaches and will follow the same training methods used by the Barcelona youth teams in Spain. It will have seven football pitches and will grow be able to enrol 1,000 boys and girls aged between six and 18 years. The first students will join the academy this summer, with its first full season training beginning in September.
Starting immediately, the interactive FC Barcelona experience area has opened in Haikou, preparing for the grand opening later this year. This will grow to comprise a 7,000-square-meter Barcelona facility offering interactive Barca brand experiences and highlighting the club’s stars and its history. It will sell official Barcelona merchandise and includes a food and beverage outlet.
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: “FC Barcelona is delighted to be able to support the growth of the beautiful game in China and help you reach your goal of making this a great footballing nation.
“Opening our first 100% FCB-managed football school here in China is a huge commitment. It demonstrates our confidence in our partner Mission Hills and in the future of Hainan, as well as our optimism about the footballing talent we expect to find here.”
China’s stated objective is to have 50 million children and adults playing football by 2020 and wants world-class national teams competing for World Cup honours by 2030.
Dr. Ken Chu, Chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group said: “Since 1992 Mission Hills has been helping to popularise sport and leisure in China – including our flagship sports of golf and tennis – and now we are devoting our efforts to football as well. Mission Hills has a grand vision to create a legacy for football in China through a partnership with one of the most-loved football clubs in the world. We believe our footballing dream can act as a platform for a future generation of footballers in China.”
Barcelona has been rapidly building its presence in Asia, opening an office in Hong Kong in 2014. It has 14 Asian companies among its sponsors. The club has 25 official football schools outside of Spain, but Mission Hills will be the first academy directly controlled by the club.
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