Thriving Indian game on Baggies' radar
West Bromwich Albion will further strengthen its links with India’s booming football family when it hosts leading figures from the newly-formed Indian Super League on Friday.
The 23-strong delegation from the eight clubs which recently completed the inaugural ISL season will be at The Hawthorns to study Albion’s Premier League operation.
The club eagerly seized the chance to meet with the ISL leaders as it continues to build links between The Hawthorns and the sub continent’s burgeoning football community.
In a series of visits to Delhi and Mumbai Albion have established a strong relationship with India Football Partners, Youth Football International.
The collaboration has overseen the development of a Player Scholarship Scheme, and helped to further enhance a grass roots youth league and coaching structure, which utilises football’s universal appeal to reach out to some of the nation’s poorest communities.
An Albion Mumbai Supporters group has even emerged on Facebook while the Barclays Premier League club will keep up the momentum of this connect project with further visits to India this year.
This week’s ISL reception is one more strand in this initiative.
“For us, it’s all about recognising that the ISL has huge potential in so many areas – whether you are talking about expanding our own audience or identifying talent for the future,” says Albion’s Sales and Marketing Director Adrian Wright.
“In return we want to establish a real bond that has substance, one that can help the development of the game in India and through that make a contribution to daily life out there for many – especially the youngsters who love the Premier League.”
Albion will be rolling out the red carpet for next week’s guests who will watch video presentations about the club’s history and its India initiatives before touring the stadium and the EPPP Academy centre close by.
The Academy programme is of particular interest to the ISL delegates as they look to develop a talent stream which can one day replace the former Premier League stars recruited to help launch the debut season – figures including Robert Pires, Luis Garcia, Mikael Silvestre and Hernan Crespo.
Although football has some way to go before it matches the huge popularity of India’s No. 1 sport cricket, that has not stopped Test legends Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly taking up part-ownerships of some of the clubs. Bollywood stars John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor and Hritik Roshan have also invested.
The Premier League has signed a mutual co-operation agreement with the ISL promising strategic support to further its development.