How to Boost a Club’s Brand? Start Young.

FC Barcelona is making waves with FCBEscola.

Photo via @FCBarcelona

Summer is generally the time of the year when European soccer organizations slow down. With the Champions League, country titles and regular season play behind them, clubs can take some time to reset, train, build up their rosters and play occasional summer friendlies.

FC Barcelona, though, has a different agenda for the summer: expansion.

Coming off a series of announcements this spring, be on the look out for an increase in the club’s presence in the United States. The biggest thing to keep an eye on? FCBEscola.

FCBEscola is Barcelona’s signature youth soccer school. Its purpose is to give students an integral education in the sport while developing the club’s values and promoting its emphasis on hard work. The initiative also expands to the Barcelona brand globally.

Its current push is in the Americas.

Last month, Barcelona announced plans to open a new school in San Diego, the sixth FCBEscola in the States and first on the West Coast.

Soon after, the club announced plans for its first fully-owned and operated FC Barcelona youth soccer academy in New York.

In both of these endeavors, Barcelona is ensuring that its ‘Mes Que Un Club’ (‘More Than a Club’) mantra is being fulfilled by partnering with charitable organizations and local communities.

These partnerships give back to nonprofits throughout the United States and ensure that children coming from all income levels are able to participate.

The importance of social responsibility is not the only value that FC Barcelona is looking to instill on communities as it expands into the U.S. Marcel Lizano, local project director for FCBEscola Austin, commented on his hopes for the project.

“We want FCBEscola Austin to mirror the FCBEscola Barcelona, teaching with the same methodology and underpinned by the same values of respect, humility, effort, ambition and teamwork, with a proven success.”

Barcelona’s youth academy in Spain has developed players like Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Gerard Pique by instilling these same values. Now, it has the chance to cultivate the next generation of stars by looking for talent in the U.S., a country whose soccer culture has been lackluster and generally ignored.

Development of the younger generation is essential to the growth of soccer in the U.S. and Barcelona understands that. More than that, though, the club understands that developing an affiliation with a brand starts early, sometimes even in childhood, and they are capitalizing on that opportunity.

Two kids smile before a day at an FCBEscola camp in Charlotte (photo via @FCBEscola)

Current FCBEscola schools exist in Florida and Charlotte with additional schools set to open in Austin, Chicago and Virginia later this year.

The recent additions make the United States the country with the biggest presence in the project, which has a presence of 27 active FCBEscolas and more than more than 170 additional campuses and clinics in more than 40 countries, for the first time, starting in September 2017.

While the development of FCBEscola schools is a huge component of Barcelona’s expansion into the Americas its not the only one. The club also announced this spring that it will be the first European club to have a team in North America’s professional women’s league. The club will participate in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) starting in 2018, a huge boost in exposure for the league in the U.S.

The growing presence and increase in talent with Major League Soccer teams coupled with a strong run of recent World Cups and push of international team presence in the U.S. is creating the perfect storm for soccer to become a majorly relevant sport for the next generation. FCBEscola’s schools and academies are taking this assurance one step further.

Children are the future of our country. Their activities, interests and passions will shape the direction of the next generation of sport. Finding ways to engage with them early and instill the values of soccer in them will ensure the growth of the sport in our country.

Front Office Sports is a leading multi-platform publication and industry resource that covers the intersection of business and sports.

Want to learn more, or have a story featured about you or your organization? Contact us today.

If you liked this, click the???? below so other people will see this here on Medium.