An Offer from Camp Nou that I Could Not Refuse by Football Tribe Indonesia

written by Mahir Pradana, Football Tribe Indonesia

I have visited Camp Nou several times to watch the Barcelona home game from the stands. However, on Sunday, February 28th, 2018, I had a rare opportunity to directly cover the match as a journalist. FC Barcelona's Communication enthusiastically proposed an unexpected offer for me through Football Tribe Indonesia’s e-mail. Honestly speaking, their offer quite surprised me.

"We want to record some footages of you working in our media tribune. we rarely receive direct visits journalists from Indonesia, that is why we are asking you,” said FC Barcelona's Communication Department.

I could not say ‘no’, could I? Besides, I am curious to see how my face looks on television.

I did not think twice. I said yes.

“Perfect! The reporter and camera person from Barca TV will meet you in front of Camp Nou gate!”

So, two hours before the game started, I was approached by a representative from the Communication Department and a camera person from Barca TV. we immediately entered the stadium and headed for the media tribune.

When the camera was on, Barca TV reporter asked me several things, including my impressions about the magnificent stadium and what personal opinion I want to convey to the club.

To answer the last question above, I tucked the expectation of thousands of Indonesian Barcelona aficionados. I said that people are wondering when their players will visit Indonesia, to directly interact with the Indonesian fans, and of course to showcase their world-class skills on Indonesian stadium grass.

Until now, the Blaugrana has yet to visit its supporters in this football-crazed country. Moreover, statistically Indonesia is among the countries with biggest Barca supporters in the world, both in social media and real life. Hence, we still do not understand why Barcelona have played friendlies in Thailand and Malaysia, but still find no time to play in Indonesia.

Startled by ter Stegen and Valverde

The press tirbune at Camp Nou itself is quite unique. I have never seen quite something like it during my six years of live coverage of football matches in Europan stadiums. The tribune is located in a special room at the very top of the Camp Nou, with a viewing angle almost perpendicular to the field so the journous can feel like watching a the game on television.

Dozens of press representatives from various countries, both written and visual, crowded that media room. That time, we were witnessing another spectacular performances of Messi Magic (the great Argentinian scored a brace), ‘el pistolero’ Luis Suarez (the Uruguayan striker completed another hattrick) and spectacular curved torpedo by Philippe Coutinho. I was also amazed to directly see a couple of incredible saves by German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

After the match ended with 6-1 victory for Barca, I rushed to the mixed zone to join other journalists interviewing players. We managed to ask questions to Girona’s vice-captain, Alex Granell. Afterwards, ter Stegen walked into the room. I felt some goosebumps to be face-to-face with the future Germany number 1.

The German told the journalists that he was satisfied with his personal performance in the match. However, he regretted Girona's quick goal which he felt could be prevented if only he and his teammates played more carefully.

"We have to work hard to fix such mistakes," ter Stegen concluded in fluent Spanish.
A few minutes later, I took a seat in the press conference room. I missed the session of Girona’s coach, Pablo Machin. Luckily, I came right when Ernesto Valverde’s session started. The Barcelona coach patiently answered the questions one by one and occasionally slipped some jokes.

"We are very pleased with this victory, because we can keep safe distance with our competitors," Valverde said.

When asked about Messi's central role in the huge victory against Girona, the always-tidy looking 54-year-old replied casually, "Messi always makes things look easy. But we know for sure that on the pitch, nothing is easy. This victory is a result of hard work of all elements of the team."

Long story short, my experience covering Barcelona vs Girona at Camp Nou that night, February 25th, 2018, was quite memorable. That time I began to understand the practical meaning of the club’s popular slogan, 'mes que un club' (more than just a club). It is not only special on the pitch, FC Barcelona is also a great example of world-class management.

Feel the Passion


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