Nearly 2,000 kids from 45 schools in 22 countries across the globe, roared in unison – the sound of excitement, anticipation and perhaps a bit of disbelieving joy. Standing shoulder on the pristine pitches of Miniestadi, adjacent to FCB’s home ground of Camp Nou, and the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training grounds, the young participants were ready for the games to begin.

With a raucous group cheer, the opening ceremony concluded and the FCBEscola International Tournament presented by Rakuten got underway. With branches in more than 20 countries, FCBEscola is one of the largest football schools in the world. From Tokyo to Toronto, Mumbai to Moscow, each school is assigned a dedicated technical director from Barcelona who oversees training of the children aged 6-18 years in the renowned FC Barcelona methodology, which includes a creative and attacking brand of football and the promotion of positive values such as respect, effort, ambition, teamwork and modesty. Held once a year during Easter, the FCBEscola International Tournament features standout teams from FCBEscola schools all over the world competing in a round-robin tournament to determine the best team in each of four different age groups (under 8, under 10, under 12 and under 14).

Rakuten’s partnership with FCBEscola, announced on March 26, 2018, is the latest initiative to arise out of its powerful relationship with FC Barcelona

With branches in more than 20 countries, FCBEscola is one of the largest football schools in the world.

Despite cultural and linguistic differences, participants at the tourney were instantly united by their common love of football and the shared values taught by their FCBEscola schools, showing great sportsmanship at the event’s opening ceremony. Once the day-one matches got started however, the competition was fearsome, with each team keen to take home the brand new FCBEscola Rakuten Cup, which will go to the winning team in each age group.

Rakuten’s partnership with FCBEscola, which was announced on March 26, 2018, is the latest initiative to arise out of its powerful relationship with legendary soccer club FC Barcelona, for which it became the Main Global Partner and the first-ever Official Innovation & Entertainment Partner from July 1, 2017.

Rakuten’s support of the international tournament will include live coverage of the four championship matches on Rakuten Arena, Rakuten’s sports and entertainment social media channel. Games will be broadcast for friends, family and football fans the world over on the Rakuten Arena Facebook account.

If the opening day’s play is any indication, it’s bound to be an entertaining few days!