SAN RAMON -- Two East Bay students chosen from 90 youths attending the first Football Club Barcelona (FCB)-sponsored soccer camp held in Danville will take part in the club's elite international soccer youth academy tournament in Spain next spring.
Michaela Ferrario, 10, of San Ramon, and Adrian Jacobs, 9, of Benicia, were chosen to train at FCB Escola, a part of the Barcelona club that includes FCB -- one of the world's highest-profile soccer teams. The Barcelona academy has produced a number of soccer superstars, training them from a very young age, including Lionel Messi -- considered by some the world's best soccer player. The two winners attended the weeklong soccer camp in June at the Mustang soccer complex in Danville.
"I'm excited because I always wanted to play for Barcelona," said Michaela.
FCB has a distinctive playing style which, in part, includes maintaining rigorous possession of the ball.
"The whole philosophy (of FCB) is to keep possession of the ball, because if the other team doesn't have the ball, they can't score," said Michaela's father, Nino Ferrario. "You also have to have a very high soccer IQ.
"It is all about decision-making. The coaches place emphasis not just on the execution of technical skills ... but why you are doing this."
Ferrario said the Barcelona style is based on short passing and fastball circulation with players constantly moving the ball laterally, forward and even back at times until they find the moment when the number of attackers outnumber the defenders, often allowing its players to score goals. He said the academy instills the same philosophy in its younger players as it does in its professional soccer players.
"What Barcelona does -- whether attack or comeback -- is the short-play, possession games ... they work like machines ... well-coordinated and specific," said Frank Bagheri, president of the FCB Camp USA. "It's a beautiful thing to see."
Michaela, who has been playing soccer since she was 5 and plays the center midfield position, said her favorite soccer players are Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
"But Messi is my favorite because he always makes the right decision and is always moving and tries to receive the ball," she said. "Even missing the ball, he's still happy about it and tries again."
She said someday she would like to play for the U.S. women's national team and is inspired by California native Alex Morgan. "She tries the hardest to keep possession of the ball, like Barcelona does," said Michaela.
Adrian said he would someday like to play as well as his favorite soccer player, Messi.
"He's the best player in the world and he's cool to watch on TV!" he said.
Adrian's dad, who also coaches soccer, said, "I want him to play with attention to detail, and I think that's what the American kids lack."
For information on camps, visit www.BarcelonaCamps.com.