Major League Soccer isn't the only one expanding to the southeast of the United States.
FC Barcelona announced that the club is opening a youth academy for children ages 6-13 at Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this August. The club has conducted soccer camps around the country for the last seven years -- and the last five summers and three winters in Fort Lauderdale -- but this will be its first permanent academy in the USA. Its technical staff will be made up of Barcelona coaches who will live in Florida and pass on the same values and and tactics taught at the club's famed La Masia academy.
“After many years of handling the big task of understanding the American market we considered that it is the moment to establish ourselves in a permanent manner, it is a big step forward. We are very motivated in this new challenge and we are undertaking it with great excitement,” FCBEscola director Xevi Marce said in a club statement.
The club expects 400 boys and girls in its first year, with tryouts commencing May 17, and it will conduct its summer camp in July before opening the academy on Aug. 25, Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium manager Duncan Finch told SI.com. Eventually, the academy will expand to include 14- and 15-year-olds, and it will look to pool kids from Miami-Dade County and Broward County while being seen as an alternative to local club and travel teams, Finch added. Barcelona will be renting the facilities at CBRP -- which have previously hosted the MLS player combine -- six days a week to run the academy. Each age group will work with its coaches two days a week on the main field -- which features a 5,000-seat stadium -- and Saturdays will consist of intrasquad scrimmages. Teams will go to a couple of tournaments a year, including one that includes another Barcelona academy from around the world, Finch said.