By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
FC Barcelona makes the impossible, possible. They remain for years in the elite of Europe having the same time a team that targets to Euroleague Final Four (they have been there more times than any other team), but also they always have a special interest in their youth teams with an extensive scouting department, a fully organized staff in direct consultation with the first team and high level results.
Eurohoops.net sought the secret of success and addressed to the Director of Basketball Coaching Jordi Ardevol, who willingly answered every question about the function and philosophy of the dominating team in Spain not only in senior, but also in junior level.
Barcelona’s football club has now in its roster players like Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol, Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas who grew up in the youth teams. Also, the basketball club has developed some of the greatest Spanish players nowadays like Pau and Mark Gasol, Juan Carlos Navaro, Victor Sada etc. So the first question is evident.
- Do you dream to create a similar model to the basketball team as the one in football, having a roster compiled by 60-70% from your youth teams players?
“I don’t like talking about percentages or number of players in the roster. Each sport is different and compare is usually a bad business. When we talk about this magic moment for the “Masia players” in football team, we must to know that this way of work is more than 25 years running. But our goal as a organization is clear: To have players from our youth teams to the pro team. As much players as we can. Barcelona won some days ago the third consecutive junior championship in row having as hero Josep Perez. The only one of the junior team that has already played in first team had 0/12 shots in the final against Joventut Badalona (66-61). Although he had the confidence to take the responsibility for the crucial shot, made it and gave the championship to Blaugrana”.
- Josep Perez is the last player that plays, in first team coming from junior team. Do you have a plan on the players do you wish to forward every year to the first team?
“Not really a plan. We want to have players in the first team, but try to go faster than we can is not a good idea. We have a solid structure, a pro team staff that care about the young players, the best medical and physical services, good youth teams coaches… and obviously very good young players. It’s not a matter of time or of number of players. The goal is grow up in this philosophy step by step. And I don’t have question about we will keep producing players”.
- Barcelona’s youth teams play on a specific way introduced by the head coach of the senior team?
“Our teams have a tactical path, and our ACB technical staff is involved in that. It’s not like if we play the same systems than our men’s team, but we have common concepts and tactical ideas. The idea is produce a kind of player that matches perfectly in our basketball philosophy, respecting the individuality of each player”.
- The coaches of many youth teams care more about the results than the development of the players, so to show their work. Do you prefer to lose a game, a title or a player?
“Our coaches know which our goal is. We never sacrifice one player for a result. The kind of teams we build, the way we play, the structure of the offense or the defense… everything is in the same direction. We try to improve the players, and for that we need to show our weakness and not hide them. But it’s true that win is part of the education as well. We try to create complete players. And that means technical, tactical, physically and with winning mentality”.
- What’s the most important thing that you take care when comes the moment to choose a young guy for the youth teams?
“The quality, the talent, the physical side are obvious things. But we look also for the mentality, the ambition to become better and better, be hard enough to overpass difficult moments that will appear…”
- What’s the path for a player to play in Barcelona? How many youth teams are there?
“Our youngest team is U13. We believe we don’t need younger teams than that because there are a lot of teams in Barcelona and in Catalonia who works really well. We also have U14, U15, U16, U18 and B team. Our second team is currently playing in LEB Silver (third division). FC Barcelona is very demanding organization and we are always looking for talented players, but we try to give the longest way possible to our players”.
- Do you think that Olympiacos way of building a team will push more European teams to care about the young players?
“Olympiacos success was the result of so many things. Obviously, the way that players like Mantzaris, Sloukas or specially Papanikolau have grown this season have shown that the good players, the ones who everybody can see every summer with their youth NT that are really good players, with minutes and confidence can develop in the highest level. But thinking that any team can play with 3-4-5 20 years old players, can be a serious option to reach Euroleague… it will be a little demagogic. Each player has his own time and circumstances. It’s so bad don’t give them the opportunities they deserve, as push them to play when they are not ready yet”.
- Is that model the ideal for any team in the world that want to spend less money?
“It’s a fact, indeed. But it’s much more than this. It’s the way that the fans could feel represent easily, it’s the way that the players could understand your organization and what it means, it’s the way you can build a philosophy of game through the years, it’s the way that at the end of the season your organization have more things than just a win or a defeat”.