WEST Bromwich Albion is this month taking its new international coaching programme, ‘Pass It Forward’, to India to give youngsters from all walks of life the opportunity to play football.
The Club is sending a five-strong delegation, including fully FA qualified coaches from its charitable arm, The Albion Foundation, to New Delhi on January 20 as it builds on the groundwork laid on its first visit last October.
To deliver the project, Albion have joined forces with Youth Football International (YFI), an established coaching organisation based in the capital city. YFI runs the Delhi Youth League, which comprises 60 teams.
‘Pass It Forward’ coaching sessions will be held at schools and in some of New Delhi’s most deprived areas during the week-long trip.
Albion will launch ‘Pass It Forward’ at a press conference at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on January 21. The Club will showcase the coaching sessions to Indian businesses in the hope of attracting investment. This would enable Albion to roll out a long-term, sustainable programme in New Delhi and further afield.
Albion’s Sales & Marketing Director, Adrian Wright, who will be leading the delegation in New Delhi, said: “We are excited about our forthcoming visit to India to launch our ‘Pass It Forward’ programme, which will give many youngsters the opportunity to play football, under the supervision of fully-qualified coaches, for the first time.
“Football is a universal language and we believe it has the power to engage and motivate young people and also develop meaningful life skills such as inclusion, responsibility and respect.
“There is also a coach education element to the trip. Our research shows that many of the programmes being run in India are undertaken by under-qualified coaches. By using the knowledge and experience we have gained as a Premier League club, we are endeavouring to change that by helping coaches attain globally-recognised qualifications.
“Football is becoming increasingly popular in India, with interest expected to grow further ahead of the launch of the Indian Super League in September and the recent announcement that the Under-17s World Cup will be hosted in India in 2017.
“We are hoping our trip to New Delhi creates a lot of positive interest in our football club. It would be great if at some point in the future, Pass It Forward or the talent hunt programme we will be rolling out through soccer schools in New Delhi in the coming months leads to youngsters becoming professional players or even playing for Albion.”
Links between the West Midlands region and the Indian capital have recently been strengthened by Air India launching a direct flight from Birmingham International to New Delhi.
Mr Wright added: “We have invited many of New Delhi’s leading businesses to the launch and we are hoping to forge mutually-beneficial partnerships.
“Under new legislation, Indian businesses are looking to invest in new CSR projects and we believe Pass It Forward will provide them with an opportunity to both engage with and make a difference in local communities.
“The Club has a large Asian population on its doorstep and when we began to explore the possibility of taking ‘Pass It Forward’ to the sub-continent, New Delhi seemed the perfect place to start due to the links between the two areas, which will be strengthened further by Air India’s direct flight path.”