Barca Stars Meet FUTURES Players
To watch some of the best players in the world live is an amazing opportunity but it is a whole other level to meet them the following day. That is the unique moment those on United Futsal’s FUTURES Programme got to experience.
After watching FC Barcelona win a Copa Del Rey quarter-final against the Spanish Cup Champions, the next evening the FUTURES players had an exclusive Q&A and meet and greet sessions with 3 of the stars of the match as well as a club legend. They spent an hour offering advice and answering questions before taking photos and signing memorabilia.
The key thread across all the advice was clear; Don’t focus on the end result of trying to be a professional player and concentrate on enjoying the process.
Brazilian winger Matheus told the youngsters “When I was your age, I didn’t think I would play for a great team like Barcelona. I had lots of fun and my parents didn’t put pressure on me which I think helped a lot.”
This was reinforced by Carlos Ortiz, who holds the record for all-time appearances for Spain; “Don’t put pressure on yourself. Enjoy the process and things will come.”
Sergio Gonzalez, who scored 2 goals the night before, was in agreement with his teammates. “The most important thing is you don’t have to think you will be a pro player. Your main goal must be to enjoy, to become better and better every day and act like a professional.
“But don’t think you will be a Barca player as none of us here thought about that. It is a natural process from a lot of work, many hours of training and a lot of effort. Enjoy your time as a youth player as it is very beautiful.”
They all spoke about their individual journeys to the top of the game and what was clear is there is no one unique path to success. Matheus didn’t start playing futsal until 16 and it was only when he started working with FUTURES coach, Daniel Magalhães, who coaches with Corinthians senior and youth sides, that he realised he had the possibility to make it as a professional.
Gonzalez, who spent two summers in Australia coaching on United Futsal’s programmes, started playing futsal at four years old but whilst playing in the first division decided to take a step back to sign for Barca’s B team in the division below. Many questioned his decision, but it was another coach involved in the FUTURES Programme, Xavi Closas, that made him understand he could reach the very top. He revealed how he arrived at his decision. “During all my life, the most important aspect to take into account when making decisions, was my development…in hindsight, it was the right decision.”
Former Barca goalkeeping great, and another FUTURES coach, Paco Sedano, also started at 4 years old but only chose to dedicate himself to goalkeeping at 16 years old joking because he was a “bad outfielder”. It wasn’t until 28 years old that he left his hometown club and signed for Barcelona where he would lead them to unprecedented domestic and international success.
4-time European champion Ortiz started playing whilst at school. At 39 years old, he spoke about what keeps him going after winning so many trophies “The key is desire. The desire to win, the desire to train every day with my teammates and the desire to lift another trophy.”
The players also gave advice on what it requires to be a professional player. The multiple Champions League winner Ortiz spoke again about the need to have fun even when it is your job; “To be a professional player should not be different to playing with your friends. It is true you have a responsibility to the club that pays you and the fans. But in the end, it is a game. You have to have desire and enjoy it and treat it like this.”
World Cup winner Sedano added; “The responsibility of a professional futsal player is to be a professional 24 hours a day. From when you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed, you are a professional. What you eat has to be like a professional. Before and after the match you act like a professional. The most important is to be professional 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Other questions from the FUTURES players included how to deal with big crowds, how to make friends in a team and how to understand your teammates on the pitch. After gaining many valuable insights the FUTURES players got photos and signed items to remember this unique moment they had just lived. It isn’t one they’ll forget any time soon.
*ABOUT DOUG REED*
Doug Reed is a professional futsal player from England whose passion for the game has taken him across the world to report on top stories, and provide insights from someone inside. Visit his website at www.dougreedfutsal.com or follow him on social media via @DougReedFutsal.