D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) has launched an international partnership with the professional soccer team Fútbol Club (FC) Barcelona to train its middle school students and provide study opportunities abroad to high school students.
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the partnership Wednesday, July 26 alongside DCPS officials and FC Barcelona representatives at Roosevelt High School in Northwest.
“FC Barcelona’s mission is nicely aligned with to our work here at DCPS; like us, they believe in character development,” said DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson. “We want students to be exposed to the best the world has to offer.”
The Barcelona-based team, one of the top-performing in its league, next summer will hold FútbolNet, a soccer training program, in the District for middle school students.
Team officials say the training camp incorporates technical sports training with social-emotional training to promote positive values in the young participants. The program is implemented in over 50 countries worldwide. The District and Miami will soon join New York City in the FútbolNet’s roster of American programs.
Soccer, internationally known as football, stands as one of the world’s most popular sports. DCPS currently has soccer teams at about 14 middles schools and 10 high schools.
FC Barcelona will also provide a study-abroad and training program in Barcelona for the District’s female high school students next spring. The study abroad opportunity will take place as a part of Reign, the city’s initiative to empower young girls of color.
“When I was a kid, football… was not integrated with education,” said FC Barcelona Vice President Jordi Cardoner. “Today, we are not just talking about football, but we are [also] talking about culture.”
He said the camp’s focus on socio-emotional development adds “to the spectacular of football.”
In the upcoming year’s budget, Bowser invested $6.2 million into the city’s public middle and high schools to engage students at all of the schools in more extracurricular activities, develop new athletic programs and to create computer coding clubs.
The investment will help support the soccer training program.
The mayor said the reforms will help students “stay and engaged and stay involved,” and keep students going to school every day.
“The lessons [students] learn in sports in DCPS are principles that will carry them through their lives,” she said.
Bowser said transformation of the city’s sports climate will not end with its schools.
“We recognize the importance of sport in developing young people,” she said. “But, it’s more than just our schools. We have that philosophy about our city and we develop [it].”
She said she believes sports will play a central role in helping to grow the city’s prosperity as its sports industry continues to engage with its retail and hospitality sectors.
Bowser touted the city’s future athletic endeavors, including opening a home stadium next year for D.C. United, the District’s professional soccer team; a similar commitment to opening a practice and game facility for the Washington Mystics; and being selected to host next year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game.