Spanish giants Barcelona have reportedly signed a nine year-old footballer. And not for the first time.
Barcelona hold recruitment camps around the world in the hope of spotting and snapping up young talent for their academy. They held one near where I used to live in Raynes Park in south west London, so they obviously don’t mind spreading the net very far and very wide.
And I understand it’s an ultra competitive sport with huge sums of money being exchanged for players, but it just doesn’t sit very well with me to hear that they recently signed a nine year-old Swedish child.
He’s nine years old! He’s barely been alive for 10 000 hours, never mind spent that long practising. But those that know at Barca think he’s a worthwhile investment, and they probably know better than me.
It’s not right, on principle
Still, I’m entitled to object on my own principled grounds to taking a nine year-old child away from his childhood and expecting him to live with the expectation of becoming “the next Messi” until he burns out at the age of 13 or 14.
I don’t see how you can see stardom in the skills of a nine year-old. But I suppose Barcelona and others will tell me that you can get a pretty good idea, and if you have enough potential prodigies on your books then you improve your chances of actually finding one.
Indeed while this is the first nine year-old signing that I’ve heard of, a quick Internet search tells me that Barca signed two nine year-olds in 2012, one from Ireland and the other from the Philippines. So at least their latest recruit will have playmates at the academy.
It’s a football problem
I know well enough that it’s not going to change. If anything, it will get more ridiculous and I’ll read about an eight year-old signing next year.
But I can’t focus my discontent on Barcelona alone, because I know other clubs do the same thing. So I guess it’s football in general that gets my thumbs down.