FC Barcelona (FCB), one of the largest professional sports franchises in the world, is opening a full-time youth soccer academy in Nashville, in partnership with Father Ryan High School and Harding Academy.
The Nashville Barça Academy will open officially in mid-August, with open tryouts beginning May 20.
The Barça Academy is an official extension of FC Barcelona and will give Tennessee youth soccer players the opportunity to receive the same hands-on training in the methodology that produced some of the world’s best soccer players, including Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol, and Xavi Hernandez, all of whom trained at La Masia, FCB’s official youth training academy in Barcelona.
Barça Academy’s curriculum is designed by FC Barcelona’s technical director and will focus on developing players’ technical abilities and tactical understanding. Players will be separated by age and individually evaluated by official FC Barcelona coaching staff. Training will take place at Father Ryan High School and Harding Academy throughout the year.
Several other American cities have full-time Barça Academies. The Barça Academy in Northern Virginia is preparing to graduate its first group of high school seniors from the program. Of the three graduating seniors, one will play NCAA soccer, and the other two were recently invited for professional tryouts in Gibraltar by Europa FC, a Champions League eligible team, giving them the ability to sign U23 contracts with a team that will play in the world’s biggest soccer competition outside of the World Cup.
FC Barcelona has partnered with Sporting Global to launch the Barça Academy in Nashville. Sporting Global is an international sports management and leadership firm that also represents Spanish tennis superstar Rafa Nadal. Sporting Global has also worked with the Spanish National Soccer Team, LA Galaxy of the MLS, BellatorMMA number-one contender Rafael Lovato Jr, and many other major sports brands.
“When we hosted our very first camp in Nashville over three years ago, it became evident that our brand and its values are truly in line with those of this community,” said John Nash, CEO of Sporting Global, FC Barcelona’s official partner for youth camps and Academies around the country. “We could not be more excited to finally be able to bring this premier academy to Nashville. We believe that our partners, Father Ryan High School and Harding Academy, share in our vision for the Academy, and, together, we will build a strong, values-based community centered on soccer.”
Father Ryan High School President Jim McIntyre said in a statement: “Father Ryan is proud to partner with FC Barcelona in this joint venture. We were approached by representatives of the Club with this unique opportunity and were impressed by their vision for the Academy. We believe that their mission and values are aligned with those of our institution and our long and successful soccer tradition, one that spans almost fifty years, includes nine state titles and is led by a TSSAA Hall of Fame coach in Robin Dieterich. We are excited to have them on our campus as they join this great sports community in Nashville.”
David Skeen, Head of School at Harding Academy, added, “at Harding Academy, we educate the whole student – challenging and nurturing the mind, body, and spirit. Athletics and physical education are important avenues for developing self-discipline, teamwork, competitive spirit, and sportsmanship, qualities that equip a person for success in any area of life. We feel that the values of FC Barcelona mirror those of Harding Academy and look forward to partnering together.”
Former Belmont University Men’s Soccer Head Coach Earle Davidson will lead the Nashville Barça Academy. Davidson, who will serve as Nashville General Manager for Sporting Global, has spent the past 30 years around Nashville soccer. After playing four years at Vanderbilt University, Davidson spent 17 years leading the Men’s Soccer program at Belmont, where he is the winningest coach in program history. In addition, Davidson has been involved with a number of youth clubs across Middle Tennessee.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me and Nashville soccer,” said Davidson. “Personally, having modeled much of my work over the last 30 years on FC Barcelona’s methodology, values, and playing style, the opportunity to work as a part of the Club is extraordinary. Having an elite brand, like FCB, enter the burgeoning Nashville soccer scene that is focused on developing both high-quality people and players is only going to create a powerful diversity in the culture of local soccer.”
Tryouts will be held the week of May 20th at Father Ryan High School and the week of June 3rd at Harding Academy. Tryouts are open to both boys and girls at every age level.
The first informational session will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday May 16, at Father Ryan High School, with an additional informational session on Friday May 17, at Harding Academy. The Barça Academy will officially open in mid-August of 2019.
For the most up-to-date information visit https://schools.fcbarcelona.us/nashville/.