FC Barcelona's Indonesian Academy And The Death Of A Dream

As an Indonesian I wasn't sure that it is the best place for an academy. Then I found out the the subscription fees exclude any kids but the rich and a little part of me died...
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As an Indonesian I wasn't sure that it is the best place for an academy. Then I found out the the subscription fees exclude any kids but the rich and a little part of me died...

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When I first heard about FC Barcelona plans for football academy in Indonesia I didn’t know what to make of it. Though Indonesia is a football crazy country it didn’t strike me as the most ideal place to launch an academy. For one Indonesia isn’t necessary a football giant, we were beaten black and blue by minnows Bahrain. 10-0. If I actually cared I would’ve been ashamed. However, international football is just about as interesting to me as watching grass grow. Still, the score of 10-0 raised a few eyebrows (unless your name is Jose Bosingwa). Even FIFA, an organization so incompetent it makes the marketing team of the ill-fated John Carter movie look a bunch of geniuses, felt inclined to investigate the more than suspicious score. For your information, Bahrain needed to score at least 9 goals to keep their minimal hopes alive of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Smells like match fixing. That brings us to another major problem in Indonesia – corruption. You’d be very naïve to believe that corruption doesn’t exist in your country. However, Indonesia sets the gold standard for being corrupt nation in Southeast Asia.

Am I being racist? Hell no. I am Indonesian, although I was born and raised in Europe. At any rate, that doesn’t mean that I’m trustworthy. I live in Germany so if the former President turns out to be a crook, the former Secretary of Defense a fraud, where do I fit in? Let’s just say I am morally flexible. My favorite color is grey and money green. But back to the matter at hand. If having to deal with corruption and match-fixing is enough already, Indonesia has not one but two competitions vying for recognition as the marquee national league, the IPL (Indonesian Premier League) and its breakaway competitor the ISL (Indonesian Super League). If this situation isn’t resolved soon Indonesia is likely to be banned by FIFA. Is this really the right framework to find and nurture football prodigies? I guess not.

If greed is what FC Barcelona stands for I don’t want any of it

Another more profound problem is the set-up of FC Barcelona’s football academy “Escola Barcelona” itself. While La Masia youngsters receive their training and schooling for free, Indonesia’s version of football’s most famous academy is charging a monthly tuition of roughly 20,000,000 IDR (roughly 1,800 USD). Hmm, how much is the minimum wage in Indonesia? Barely 1,000,000 IDR a month (about 80,00 USD). So if you do have the talent but don’t have the financial muscle, where does that leave you? I’m sure you will not enroll in the academy. The official statement that about 25 students will receive scholarships is laughable. If anything it’s a step back. Football has never been the sport of the wealthy such as Tennis, Golf or horse-riding. How is football-Indonesia going to benefit from FC Barcelona’s know-how and expertise if prospective students don’t have the financial cloud to enroll in its academy? The idea is the right one but the execution is fundamentally flawed. Football to many is way out of poverty. Who can afford to pay $2,000/month to learn how to play football the Barcelona way? If money is the sole criterion to enroll in FC Barcelona’s Indonesian academy, who will enroll? I’ll tell you. Rich, bored kids who out of ideas on how to spend their afternoons. Imagine where Lionel Messi would be if he had to pay $2,000/month on top of the $1,000 he needed for his growth hormone treatment. I bet we wouldn’t witness the greatest player of our generation right now. Hence I am everything but excited about FC Barcelona’s foray into my native.

If you ask me it’s the latest in a long line of shameful attempts in making a dollar. I love FC Barcelona as much as anyone but if the club really cared they wouldn’t charge the students a dime. I don’t think you’ll find Indonesia’s talents in the fancy neighborhoods of Kelapa Gading or Pondok Indah but rather in the ghettos of Jakarta. Give a child a dream, some hope and not more barriers. Which kid from a modest background can afford to pay $2,000 a month for football? If greed is what FC Barcelona stands for I don’t want any of it.

Adi-Oula Sebastian, founder and owner of Soccer Inc. (www.soccer-inc.), former Editor-in-Chief of Barca Blaugranes (www.barcablaugranes)

Twitter: @JubeiKibgame


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