Ten-time European champions Real Madrid are typing up with I-League side KingFisher East Bengal. After a meeting between the Indian side’s officials and the La Liga giants’ Asia Pacific CEO, Luis Fernandez and Project manager Anderson Muntaner, the Spanish side has agreed to join hands with Kolkata-based East Bengal’s academy.
On Saturday, East Bengal’s football academy will be formally launched and a big boost for club officials is that Real Madrid has agreed to tie up with the academy. At a time when Indian domestic football circuit is facing obscurity because of the decorated I-League, the news of this association is a welcome boost for domestic football, albeit at the junior level.
According to the deal, technical teams from the Spanish club will visit the East Bengal academy and help the trainees there. The academy boys will also travel to Madrid for special training programmes. They might also play matches at La Fabrica, Real Madrid’s academy.
A senior East Bengal official, Debabrata Sarkar was quoted as saying “After last year’s I-League, we were planning on creating a youth development ecosystem.
We had several clubs in mind, especially from the Premier League. However, no deal came through with them. Then we shifted our attention to the La Liga, and Real Madrid eventually agreed to our tie-up. We are hoping for a long, fruitful and meaningful association with them and it can be a game-changer”
Real Madrid, however, has clarified their stance that the association will be on a “short-term basis”. Real Madrid though, would still be involved with small projects and CSR activities of the club. Real Madrid is more interest in “two-three” week programmes where they would be working with the players and coaches at the academy.
Real Madrid officials will be absent from the opening ceremony which will be attended by former Indian footballers – Bhaichung Bhutia, Bruno Coutinho, I.M Vijayan and Kuljit Singh. The academy will be located at New Town and will be inaugurated by former Olympian Arun Ghosh.