This is an article worth reading. Please enjoy the letter that Babunski wrote the day he left Futbol Club Barcelona, expressing the great experiences and the unique values he learned at the most successful Futbol Club in the world. This is why I decided to start BSE, and this is exactly what we want to pass onto our players.
See you soon, Barça!
It’s worth a shout.
I always reflect on my life experiences. And without a doubt the experience of ending a career of over ten years in FC Barcelona is worth some reflecting.
My nearest and dearest know my reasons for my great love of writing. One of the main ones is that, unlike the green rectangle of the field, on the white rectangle of paper there are no limits except those I impose on myself. Here my soul can express itself without bounds.
I don’t have a 90 minute time frame in which to compress my intentions. I don’t have referees who judge my actions as correct of incorrect, nor a fixed position from which I must fulfil my work and complete proposed objectives. I am not given orders that tell me how or where I need to progress. I don’t have a specific technique, nor rules, nor noise, nor a fear of failure, nor dependence on others, nor a hundred eyes to impress. I am alone with myself, with the pros and cons of this circumstance, enjoying the true taste of freedom.
Regarding the numerous messages of condolence I have received, I would like to firmly point out that leaving Barça is not a tragedy, nor a shame, nor a pity, nor any kind of failure, nor even the cause of the slightest sadness. Being forced from your country, having to leave your home and family due to constant bomb threats, fires and gunshots… that is truly terrible. Poverty, hunger, destroying the environment: all that represents a truly terrible failure on behalf of ALL of us. A sad human tragedy which brings shame, pity and sits beyond our empathy.
I recall arriving at Barça over a decade ago. The first thing I had to do was cut the long locks that, after twelve years growing, hung halfway down my back. I had long hair my whole childhood; it was something that identified me. But the standards of the club were so strict that until I met them, I would not play.
I didn’t understand any of it. What did me hair have to do with football? It was explained to me that here they did not want players, especially the younger ones, to draw attention to ourselves for anything else but football. They didn’t want us boys to stand out above our peers due to qualities beyond sport. We were also forbidden from wearing earrings, piercings, tattoos, long hair, dyed hair or attention-seeking haircuts…
In short, the collective of exceptional professionals who were assisting us, as well as showing us how to play what is possibly the best football on the planet, also showed us to escape the materialistic show business and to be good people: educated and honourable. They helped us to cultivate values such as humility, respect, courtesy, solidarity, union, camaraderie, generosity… And whenever a player’s behaviour strayed from that path, they displayed exemplary re-orientation education.
From the first moment up until the last day I have been growing with Barça under the understanding that in order to wear this shield with pride and honour I not only had to meet demanding football standards, I also had to represent a set of human values, identify myself by a noble code of conduct and defend a predetermined and unique way of doing things:
This special philosophy upon which this organization was built and that has brought so much success on all levels throughout its history.
I leave with the joy of knowing that my football has been declared to contain “Barça DNA” and that I have been recognized as a en example of the values that holds together and strengthens its house. I have always tried to keep these values present in my conduct, even when I felt that I was not paying them so much attention or that I was not putting so much effort into fulfilling them.
In ten years I have witnessed changes from inside the club. For me it will never be a failure than any particular Barça team has not won a match or earned a title, because that is the cyclic nature of this life – you win some, you lose some – even though Barça remains the club that in the last few years has the most victories and conquests under its belt, and doubtless will continue to amass them in the future.
But to see that outsiders have doubted this essence, have questioned this philosophy, weakening the belief in the values that Barça represents, that has hurt me. I suppose that this was no accident. In this society, immediate gratification is very tempting and every day it traps more people. And not achieving those immediate results often leads us into desperation which ends up blinding us and forcing us to change our ways, often relegating our essential values and principles to the background.
In the world of football these mechanisms develop quickly and values find themselves in danger of extinction. I want to believe that Barça has never fallen for these traps, and that whenever it has, it has quickly recovered its true essence, that it has never wandered from sight, that it has always been protected, fed and strengthened, not just with superficial marketing videos and images, but with the everyday practice with all the players and members of the club, as we all appreciate having experienced this essence.
For the young ones…
At some point we all fall victims to routine and become trapped in the normality of the place we find ourselves day after day. But every once in a while, raise your sights from wherever you are in the Ciudad Deportiva and fix them for a few seconds on the shield that sits high in the skies of Sant Joan Despí: remember where you are, how privileged you are and what it means to be a part of Barça.
Take advantage of this privileged position, not to increase your number of followers on instagram and twitter, to buy and show off fancy cars, to eat free in restaurants and to bask in the glory that this society gives you. But to accumulate unique experiences, improve as footballers and above all to grow as people, learning from the values you will be taught here.
This society will treat you differently just for the shield you wear on your chest. Try and think instead about what you can give back to society. Because kicking a ball is not a good enough reason to be treated better than all other citizens, but maybe by upholding great values we can earn that treatment. And in Barça you learn this values that can overreach into other areas of your life. At least I learned such values.
For the girls…
Don’t shut up and keep fighting for complete equality regarding the opportunity, treatment and attention that men enjoy. You have my support! Football has the power to balance men and women’s places in society.
For the big guys…
Thank you for being the best, for treating me like another one of you every time I went to train with you, for redefining the limits of football every year. Your abilities and influence is immeasurable. With so little you can move and inspire millions of people. That great power can be used to great effect, both positive and negative, across the world. For that reason I encourage you to be conscientious and responsible with it. I invite you to let your guards down sometimes, to be sociable and to become closer to our own humanity. There are millions of kids (the future generation in which your children will grow up) who are following your example. It’s sad that footballers are society’s heroes, but it’s true. What can we do about it?
The end result of the cocktail of emotions, thoughts and memories I have unleashed inside myself is a complete and deep sense of gratitude: towards the club, towards everyone I have met in it, and towards life. I leave happy and immortalized, in search of new paths, dares, experiences, knowledge and proposals!
I give infinite thanks to everyone who looked after our grounds, who kept our dressing rooms clean and to security, all of which would go undetected like ghosts. You are indispensable!
Infinite thanks to all my fellow players, trainers, physios, medical staff and kit managers that I have had since Youth B right up to my third affiliated year. I consider you all to be spiritual masters, because each one has taught me life lessons.
This is not a farewell letter. Because in the future, if not as a player, then however, Barça and I will be working together again to make the world a better place through football!
Long live Barça. Long live Catalunya.
Cofounder & Coach
– 8 years with FC Barcelona Youth teams. – 4 years with Real Madrid Youth teams. – Spanish U15– U14 National Team. – Soccer Coach in Hong Kong’s AC Milan School – UEFA A Licensed Coach. –Diego at Wikipedia