The defending champions, Minerva Punjab unveiled their recent tie-up with Borrusia Mönchengladbach, a historic team from the North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, who plies their trade at the top division of German Football, Bundesliga. The official announcement was first made yesterday by the current I-League champions on their social media handles.
Minerva Punjab is known for their efficient youth development policies which focuses on developing the academy players to represent them in the I-League and the national team. Their youth systems have produced the likes of Sandesh Jhingan and Anirudh Thapa who currently don the national team jersey and were a key part in India’s progress to the Asian Cup.
Borrusia Mönchengladbach has a rich history in the Bundesliga as they won the title 5 times. The club is currently placed in 3rd position at the League table causing problems for the 26 times title winners, FC Bayern Munchen. Borussia has extensively worked on their youth system for a long time and has produced legendary players from their academy. The most high-profile player being Marc Andre Ter-Stegan.
With both the clubs having a mutual understanding and a common goal of developing and uplifting football right from the grassroots, Minerva is set to embark on a new journey with professional assistance from Germany. It is said, players from the academy shall have chances to visit the club and practice with them. Previously, Minerva had tied up with Bolton Wanderers back in 2016.
Back in November 2018, Bundesliga came in India to finalize a tie-up with IMG Reliance which is a long-term project focusing on the development and promotion of football and Bundesliga in India. It is projected that the Bundesliga clubs along with the various stakeholders of Indian football, will work together to uplift the Indian standards by assisting them technically and commercially through coaching, investments, branding and fan engagement ideas. Bundesliga is a massive brand making around $4.5 Billion in revenue every year and is regarded as the most attended league in Europe as they have an electrifying ambience at the stadium.
German football is known for its youth development as it has produced the likes of Manuel Nuer, Tony Kroos and Thomas Muller in the past, through their structured grassroots programs. Also, most of the teams have a young team which plays in the league, which is why the Bundesliga is considered to be a very fast-paced league. The same structure is now being prepared to take place in India as well through their brand as it is a genuine way to take things forward to achieve the bigger goals.
It is intriguing to see Mr Ranjit Bajaj, the owner of Minerva Punjab tie-up with a German club who in an interview said, “It was because of the juniors that I got interested in this collaboration. India’s future depends on our junior players. So, if they go there in Germany and train for some days or months then it will only help Indian football,”
With the strong motive of taking football to masses by foreign tie-ups, this can be a great initiative to create the ecosystem for the beautiful game of football in India by making the players come out of their comfort zone and getting exposed to the western football regime.
The key challenge currently being increasing the participation from the start of a kid’s playing journey, these initiatives at the local levels and by the professional clubs can play an important role in developing the game’s status in the country, and instil a footballing culture, right from the grassroots.