Perarnau said players were chosen to be trained at La Masia based on three criteria: "Players with very good
technique, who are able to understand the game (not just play, but also understand it) and speed of mind," he said.
What that means is that, by the time a player is good enough to make it to the first team, he has practiced more than 10,000 hours -- learning about positional play, practicing Rondos ("Piggy in the Middle"), learning about how not to lose the ball and great technique.
One system, many years of practice -- the concept is ruthless and focused -- but what emerges is not a robot but a player who have a great understanding of the game and whose minds click slightly faster on the pitch than most of the opposing team's players because their system, their particular style of possession and quick passing, has become such a natural part of their thoughts and movements.
It's brilliant, but how does one replicate that? It has to start with young players; it has to be consistent; it has to be a philosophy that is connected as a young player grows older. But, added into the mix is something else.
"There is a very strong desire at La Masia to educate all young people holistically," Perarnau said, "not simply to focus football. This is done in basic values, such as effort and work, solidarity and commitment to the group, honesty and cleanliness in how they behave, humility in success and sobriety."
In my mind, it is not enough to just focus on winning, but also there's a need to focus on the person's capacity to be a leader. Because I think true leaders are those who are humble and value teamwork and work hard. Leaders make good decisions, on and off the field. Leaders find a problem, an obstacle, and figure out how to overcome it. When a player is confronted with a defender, that is the equivalent of an obstacle. Overcoming it can be as simple as a quick pass to a teammate supporting you nearby.
These philosophies are part of Barca's DNA. It can be part of your team's DNA, too. All it takes is the commitment to practice, to teach, to educate and inspire young players -- and, equally importantly, the commitment to keep it simple and consistent.
To read the interview with Perarnau, go to the following site: