By Ajeyo Basu
New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) Having signed a deal with current I-League leaders Chennai City FC, Swiss giants FC Basel are aiming at creating world class footballers in India over the next few years.
The partnership will focus on cooperation for setting up among other things a residential youth academy in Coimbatore and football schools across Tamil Nadu in its first phase.
Pointing out that his club has produced several stars like Egypt striker Mohammed Salah, Swiss midfield maestro Xherdan Shaqiri and FC Barcelona’s Croatian star Ivan Rakitic among others, FC Basel president Bernhard Burgener said the Swiss giants will use their vast experience in grassroots coaching in India as well.
“Education is important. In Europe there are two classes. A lot of things are money driven, the richest clubs are at the top. Our achievement at Basel is we are among the top 20 in Europe but we cannot do it with money. We try to match them with our football education by producing good players. There are very few clubs in Europe who have sold so many players, for example to the Bundesliga,” Burgener told IANS.
“Mohd. Salah was 20 when he came to Basel. He had a lot of football education here and now he is among the best in the world. Shaqiri is from our academy, now he plays at Liverpool,” he added.
“This will not happen overnight. Even if a young player has lots of talent, it will take years to build him up. We will have our best men here. The manager of our academy will oversee the programme here.”
Burgener hoped that the partnership with Chennai City will be a catalyst for a change in Indian football, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
“It is important to have this local passion for football. From the moment you learn to walk, it is passion which drives you to sport. When we signed the partnership with Chennai City our primary goal was to establish our first academy in India,” he said.
“I believe India is the next giant of football. It is a sleeping giant at present. In India everybody loves cricket, it is the No.1 game. In Europe football is No.1. Both games were invented in England. So I hope like cricket, India will become No.1 in football,” he added.
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at [email protected])