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Thanks to his excellent work during the recent IV FIFPro Torneo América (the South American Championship for unemployed players organized in January last by FIFPro Division America in Santiago, Chile), the Peruvian midfielder Carlos Barrena was put on contract by Real Garcilaso del Cusco to tackle the Copa Libertadores de América.

Barrena, who formerly played for CNI de Iquitos, and José Gálvez of Chimbote and Los Caimanes de Eten, trained with the SAFAP team from mid-December last year to keep themselves fit and show themselves off, in the hope of being contracted by a professional team.

The signing up of Carlos Barrena by Real Garcilaso is perhaps an unequivocal demonstration of the objective followed by the FIFPro at world level, which is to provide a professional with an opportunity to show his capabilities at international level in what is known as the FIFPro Tournament.

"I expect to have a good year taking notes and helping the team. In group work, the idea is to come out as champions in the national tournament and to better what we did last year in the Copa Libertadores", said Carlos Barrena. In 2013, the club surprisingly reached the quarter finals of the Copa Libertadores.

Barrena went on to explain that playing in Real Garcilaso represents a demanding challenge in his career, since they got as far as the finals of Peruvian football in 2012 and 2013, ending both years as runners-up.

For this talented national midfield player, the FIFPro America Tournament was his first international experience, with barely a month of training sessions with the SAFAP team. Barrena praised the FIFPro management, not only for the tournament but for how it handled cases that happen in other countries.

Carlos Barrena assisted on the first goal of Peru in the FIFPro Tournament final


Playing in the FIFPro tournament was an unforgettable experience

What opinion did you form of the tournament played in Chile?
"Playing in that tournament was an unforgettable experience. The first and most important detail was that we were representing our country (Peru), and that can't be compared with any other situation. Second, because it lets you relate to and exchange ideas with players from other countries. Apart from that, everything was in good order, from the logistics, through the organization of the tournament, and right up to the facilities in the hotel: everything was on the top level."

How would you describe the SAFAP team?
"I'm convinced that any of the present members of the SAFAP team can play in the first division. I was able to share about a month with them and I know the expectations that most of them have. Sometimes it's hard to understand how colleagues with such excellent talents can be unemployed, but in these difficult situations, you sometimes have to be very patient, show perseverance and a great deal of professionalism in order to take the right decisions."

Was this the first time you trained with the SAFAP team?
"Yes, it was the first time."

Could you imagine winning the title in Chile?
"The competition was demanding, especially because there isn't much time to recover between matches, but when you're representing your country you manage to find extra force even though you're tired. We arrived psyched up to achieve the first position. We kept on demonstrating, game after game, that we could do it, and we did it. Perú campeón!"

Did you think of getting as far as the Copa Libertadores?
"It really surprised me a lot to receive an offer from Real Garcilaso. I wasn't expecting it, but I didn't think twice about it! We have come to a good agreement, and for me it's an important step in my career because I've ended up with a serious club: they always have important objectives, with an excellent technical staff, and the group of players received me kindly. It only remains for me to contribute my talents and to get integrated rapidly for the benefit of the team."

What do you think of the FIFPro management at American level?
"During the tournament, I heard about some cases of arbitrary dismissals in various countries, and fortunately the unions of each country were able to come out with flying colours in their respective demands. SAFAP plays an important role in Peruvian football, and we are very grateful for that. They are always on the alert to defend our rights and interests against the federations and clubs."