Adil opens up new frontier
OVER the last couple of years, we’ve reported on Albion’s interest in taking our message out to India, a project that began initially in Delhi before moving to Mumbai last December when we took part in the BPL Live Event there before staying behind once that show had left town and working in the local community there too.
But now, we’ve gone full circle and back to Delhi, for reasons that we could probably have never imagined – the arrival of an Albion player in the Delhi Dynamos team, ready to take his place in the Indian Super League.
Adil Nabi has gone on loan to the Dynamos, coached by Brazilian World Cup winner Roberto Carlos, and will form part of their side through to their season’s conclusion in December.
As the driving force behind Albion’s expansion into India, the Club’s Sales & Marketing Director, Adrian Wright, is understandably delighted by this unexpected turn of events.
“We’ve tried to build a relationship between ourselves and India over a period of a couple of years now. We’ve made several visits out there, we’ve done a lot of work in local communities with kids from all levels of society and we feel that we have made a mark with communities over there. But clearly, this will help take things onto a different level.
“The idea came purely from Delhi Dynamos, it wasn’t us trying to form any kind of strategic alliance that way. But they are a very young club, approaching their second season in the league, and naturally they are having to look beyond India to find talent to build a team.
“It’s the nature of the beast unfortunately that clubs all over the world will look to buy success. In India and China where things are only just starting, clubs are having to scour the world to do that and to create the interest and excitement to get the local people to go and watch games.
“They felt that Adil would fit their team, that as a young player he would give a nice balance to more experienced players they have such as Florent Malouda, but they also felt that as an Asian player, Adil would also help demonstrate to their domestic audience that Asian footballers can make the grade.
“It’s an interesting story too given that he’s of Pakistani origin and the relationship between the two countries can be fractious to say the least! Delhi actually feel that could help relations on that level too, so it’s a wide ranging move in the background, but one that was wholly brought about for footballing reasons.
“I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason and though this opportunity came from out of the blue, it does work very well on a number of levels, particularly for Adil himself.
“I think it’s going to be a great experience for him and something that I’m sure he is looking forward to because, for whatever reason, he’s played a lot of Under 21s football but has never been able to go out on loan in this country. The chance to play games in front of big crowds, big television audiences too, will be very beneficial.
“On top of that, he finds himself in a position where he’s wanted by Roberto Carlos who is going into his first coaching role out there. To work with a world class footballer at such close quarters for the next four months has to be good for him.
“I’m not a betting man but I think Adil will do very well out there and score a lot of goals. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish top goalscorer there and if he does that, he will make a major name for himself”.
It’s not the most original of observations to suggest the world is getting smaller every day. The easy movement of ideas, intellectual property and, of course, money across the planet means that we live in one other’s pockets now more than ever. With that comes danger and, thankfully, opportunity.
“A number of clubs are creating relationships with other clubs in other parts of the world – Manchester City do it, Chelsea, Liverpool. I believe that Manchester City have the right model, they acquire franchises throughout the world to run clubs in emerging football markets such as Japan, Australia, America, because that ultimately gives them control.
“I think that is where football will go because in the near future, questions will be asked about the money paid for international rights to the Premier League.
“I believe those countries will begin to say that they want to retain that money in their own countries and develop their own football by signing bigger names, building better teams, getting expertise and guidance from this country to ultimately trump us 15 or 20 years down the line.
“I think it’s important that we get skin in the game right at the start of that process by way of a collaboration or a tie up with emerging markets. If you can get an understanding that, right, we’re working in this together, that they need our expertise and we need their market, then I suspect that’s how the future landscape will look, but who knows?
“Domestically, it is difficult for us to stand out in a Premier League where our comparative resources mean that we can’t go out and buy superstars. We have to look to other things and perhaps that’s that we are a great community club, we run very good grassroots programmes, we have a good eye for new talent, and that those are qualities that we can help transfer to another part of the world and give them access to.
“Delhi Dynamos is the obvious place to start a relationship now that we have a player with them. It gives us a chance to get content from them featuring Adil across our platforms so that we can keep tabs on him.
“We’ll be looking to connect with them by producing a match programme for them perhaps or some video highlights, but we hope they can open up their fans to us, share our news with them so that if a Delhi Dynamos supporter wants to follow a club in the Premier League, it will be natural for them to follow Albion rather than the big four, because we have a strong connection.
“That might well be a model for the future”.