They all want to play like Messi

Their eyes lit up, their feet were mimicking famous moves and every so often, they turned over their left shoulder to see what their teammates were doing on the pitch behind them.

For four days starting next Tuesday, Alldan Chan, Zac Chng and Tyler Yap will fly the Republic's flag in Barcelona, where two teams of 12 youngsters from FCBEscola (FCBE) Singapore will take on other kids from around the world, all trained in the way of the famed Spanish giants.

The third edition of the annual FCBEscola International Tournament (April 15 to 18), a seven-a-side tourney for kids across four age groups, will take place a stone's throw away from the storied Nou Camp, and the Singapore trio cannot wait to strut their stuff.

On one side of the FCBE St Patrick's School headquarters was a giant banner with the faces of Nou Camp heroes Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, but the local youngsters needed no reminder that they will be in Barcelona, within touching distance of football greatness.

Alldan, 10, told The New Paper: "It'll be great if I can see Messi, Neymar and Iniesta, and get a chance to go to the place where they train.

"I'm serious about football, and I know that if we want to be good, we can't stop training and must practice as much as we can - like Messi."

 

DREAM

While the Argentinian is also Zac's football idol, the 10-year-old's dream involves the Singapore flag.

"Singapore is my home and I want to be a national player and represent the country," he said, with his two teammates echoing his sentiments.

Craig Chan has watched his son Alldan grow in the six months he has spent at FCBE, and it has brought a smile to dad's face.

"Here there is emphasis on character-building, teamwork and sportsmanship, and these are things I want to see in my son," said the 41-year-old, who believes Alldan's on-field ability has also matured.

"We regularly play in a weekend game with adults and kids, and I've seen how he anticipates passes and goes with the flow of the game, instead of just focusing on scoring," added Chan, who will accompany Alldan to Barcelona.

While Chan is just glad for the youngsters to experience playing against kids from across the globe, the young ones are dreaming bigger.

"I know that it takes a lot of commitment to improve and become as fluent and accurate as Messi is, and I'm fine with that," said nine-year-old Tyler.

"I like playing (computer) games on the weekend but it's not more fun that football."

"Let's go to Barcelona, and hopefully win some medals," he added, before turning around and bolting across the field to join his team in training.

 

This article was published on April 9 in The New Paper.

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