BarcaBona… a name that has been celebrated just as much as any other Green Sports team in history, was recently crowned 2017 Gold Cup U23 Champions.
But despite their triumph, BarcaBona are not new to winning. Not only are they current Gold Cup champions, but BarcaBona is also one of the most decorated teams in Green Sports history. Having been around for just over a year, BarcaBona has won the last four Green Sports tournaments in their age bracket and show no sign of slowing down. Truly, by now, the name ‘BarcaBona’ rings in the ears of many Green Sports fans and every team they play against.
But what makes this team so special? Are they really that good?
Green Sports recently sat down with their captain and 11-time Green Sports Champion Ibrahim Mao to tell us the secret to their success.
Here’s how the interview went:
GS: Green Sports
IM: Ibrahim Mao
GS: What was your team name, and what does your team name mean?
IM: BarcaBona means nothing. The first time we were called BarcaBona, people laughed at us. We wanted a stupid name so that people dismiss us and then we truly show them we can play. So, the team name doesn’t matter.
GS: How was the team formed?
IM: I put the team together. These guys are my friends; they are from different places. Not all of them are professional, some guys play for fun, some play pro.
GS: How did you find out about Gold Cup and Green Sports Africa?
IM: I first played in 2015, at Gold Cup. I found out about it through a friend who is now playing in Turkey. He had a team and I went to play for them.
GS: Being Gold Cup winners, what do you believe made your team stronger than all the other teams on the day?
IM: It’s not our first time, actually, in seven tournaments, we are now unbeaten and 11-time Champions. We’ve won the last four Green Sports tournaments back-to-back.
We have all the right people and the right players. There’s not one average player, everyone is good.
Also, the money plays a part… they need the money, they have the talent, we train, so we just go for it every time we come to a tournament.
We formed this team last year, we haven’t changed players since then. The same players doing the same work, all of us are friends. Everyone is good, it doesn’t depend on if one player is missing. All of us are just as good.
GS: What was the hardest challenge you had to overcome during the tournament?
IM: In the semi-finals, we played some guys who knew we were better than them, and the game was only 15 minutes. They started to defend from the first minute until the last, they didn’t give us a chance. So we went straight to penalties and penalties are always 50-50. For them, they thought, let’s go to penalties then it’s 50-50… they weren’t playing to win.
GS: What was your favorite memory of that tournament?
IM: The finals I guess. I scored a hat-trick, but I didn’t celebrate. The other team is from the same area as us, so before the day of the tournament, they were saying “we’re gonna beat you guys…. Blah, blah blah.” We proved them wrong and we won 4-0 in the finals.
GS: What will you do with the 50,000 Prize money you won?
IM: The money’s already gone. We just saved 10,000 only and the 40,000 we divided it. The 10,000 is for the next tournament, so we can register, we can have bus fare… so we saved it.
GS: What did you do with your share of the money?
IM: [laughing] With my share, I bought new shoes.
GS: Who would you say was your best player at the tournament?
IM: I don’t know, I guess it was me… [he laughs]. I think it was our keeper because he kept clean sheets, they couldn’t score on him.
GS: What are your personal plans through football? Is this a possible career for you?
IM: I plan to build a good CV. The target is to go to Europe, I want to play amongst the best in Europe. I’m training so hard and I have some opportunities. Maybe soon it’ll happen, you never know.
GS: What is your vision for the team in the next few years?
IM: We are getting better day by day, and the team is known everywhere now. Our target is actually to look for sponsorship for the team, so that we can make a name for ourselves and then go to play in even bigger tournaments, because I believe we can.
GS: Anything else?
IM: I want to suggest that Green Sports continues to support us. I want you to support us in any way you can because there are a lot of players who are willing to play professionally but they just don’t have the facilities they need, so whatever Green Sports can do for us we would really appreciate it.
Congratulations again to BarcaBona for being crowned Green Sports Gold Cup 2017 Champions once again!
If you believe that you and your team can give BarcaBona a run for their money, be sure to sign up for our next Green Sports tournament and let your feet do the talking.