Argentina forward Lionel Messi plays for FC Barcelona. He enrolled in the club's academy program at age 13 from his home country. Now, one of the world's biggest soccer clubs is looking for talent, maybe even a potential star like Messi right in our backyard.
"Soccer in the U.S. is in the process development, so in a few years it can be one of the most important teams in the world,” FC Barcelona Technical Director Jaime Monroy explained. “So for us, it's important to be here because they're a lot of kids who want to enjoy football."
FC Barcelona has produced some of the finest soccer players in the world; Messi is the most well know name. Now, the club's staff, featuring coaches who played in a World Cup, is trying to discover players at a young age at a week-long soccer camp in Tulsa.
"If I think that the teams from here, kids from here, understand our values, we can do the same in the U.S. that we are doing in Barcelona," Monroy said.
So what is the Barca method that sets it apart from the rest?
"The important thing is when you bring the methodology that has you thinking about what surrounds the football,” Monroy stated. “When you learn how to think inside of the field, you create more. When you create, you start to be different from the other ones."
Union High School head girl’s soccer coach Brian Elliott added, "My philosophy has always been one versus one. Their philosophy is numbers. So I'm kind of doing this paradigm shift to get on board with what they're teaching from a team concept at young ages."
Elliott’s Union team has won 51 of its last 52 games.
"The academies, what they're trying to do is bring the European model here and tap into our athleticism and grow their market,” Elliott explained. “It's good for them; it's good for us."
The best part about the camp is that two players will be selected at the end of the week to go to the Barcelona training facilities in Spain.
But will we see one of these players follow in the footsteps of Messi?
"You have how many players in America? Somewhere, it'll be a Messi for sure,” Monroy said.