The collaboration between the two clubs will focus mainly on youth development with the opportunity to expand into other areas.

FC Goa and RB Leipzig have entered into a three-year-long strategic partnership that focuses on youth development and exchange of knowledge between coaches and players from both clubs. The Gaurs’ Director of Football (DoF) Ravi Puskur addressed a virtual media conference with Leipzig’s Technical Director Christopher Vivell, as the duo talked about the collaboration and its overall vision. Over the years, Goa have remained intact in their philosophy of imbibing a Spanish philosophy of football. Having partnered a German club, there have been some questions over whether the club is looking to shift from its current methods.

“FC Goa from the very beginning, since the owners have come in, the vision has been to play an attacking brand of football. To try and play as much on the field as possible. We have also tried to take in different perspectives in terms of how we approach the game in India and try and take it to the next level. In that sense, nothing will change,” Puskur said.

He added, “RB Leipzig is a leader in world football in that regard. So, we will take their assistance in how we can make advancements in not just on-field preparation, but off-field preparation as well. Will the style of football change? Probably not because we try and play on the front foot and RB Leipzig, as we have seen in the last couple of seasons try and play on the front foot too.”

Further, detailing the process through which this collaboration will develop, the DoF revealed, “The immediate step is obviously to start with the soccer camps that we have got. Because that will allow us to focus on the very base level of football, which is the grassroots in Indian football. From there we will try and build it into the youth programs as well and then steadily we will try to take it into the academy.”

During the announcement, Leipzig have made it clear that they wished to avail benefits of an early entry into the Indian football market. Hence, the motive behind the German club’s involvement in this alliance has appeared to be ambiguous so far. Vivell was quizzed about whether this partnership will develop in a way that will create the pathway for younger Indian players to ply their trade in the Bundesliga in the future.

“Well, basically I will never ever exclude anything. The cooperation starts step-by-step. We want to start by helping each other. We at RB Leipzig can also learn something because we will experience different mentalities, different mindsets. India is a huge country with many inhabitants and a big population. So, if we manage to educate well, to train well and get very good players then I will not exclude that a talent has that much potential that he can play at Leipzig. But, this is not the main focus of the partnership,” the Technical Director explained.

FC Goa began their pre-season training at Ella Ground in Old Goa nearly three weeks ago.

He further said, “What we want to achieve is that we want to exchange, we want to help, we want to discuss a lot and have conversations. We want to get to know this very exciting club, FC Goa. Because they have a great vision and we want to help them. What the result will be, we will have to see. Whether it will be a player (who can play for Leipzig), we will have to see. But, it is not only a marketing thing.”

So far, the talk around the partnership has focused mainly over the work that will be done at the grassroots level. There is some suspicion about whether the Gaurs’ first-team will benefit from this arrangement. Brushing aside any such notion, Puskur mentioned, “Right now, we will focus on youth development. The primary aim is to try and work on the lower bases of football, which we feel the real requirement is at this point in time. We feel like RB Leipzig can add real value. Post that, we will try and steadily move to the older phases, when we feel like we have a solid base and understanding on which we can develop the technical partnership.”

Given that Leipzig are an astutely structured club, they are bound to possess many promising young talents on their roster. Is there a chance that they will send some players to join Goa’s academy, something that can allow the club from the coastal state to further enhance their qualities? Well, Leipzig have other plans. They wish to improve the Gaurs’ scouting network and impart to them the knowhow to do so.

“Well, basically the question is what the player wants is always the first step. So, in this cooperation we want to help FC Goa probably not make mistakes that we have made. We are both young clubs and we made one or the other small mistake in the beginning and we learned from it. I think this experience is what we can contribute to FC Goa and especially, we can help them train and educate young Indian talents,” Vivel said.

He added, “There is a huge pool of talents and children that can be brought to their full potential with good scouting etc and they can be made interesting for FC Goa. It is very good if you scout a player at an early stage and lead him through the academy and bring into the senior team. This is something that should be the first goal, first aim of a club. It is one of the most beautiful moments when your own player gets into the senior team. So we have to focus on our training and if there is a further opportunity to help, we are open to discuss and talk about it.”

RB Leipzig’s technical director also revealed that the club’s first-team’s plans to visit India was hampered due to the pandemic. However, they have it in their scheme of things going ahead. “Due to Covid-19 it is not clear when this exchange can happen, but we hope that this will be the case next summer. But, it depends on the development of the pandemic,” Christopher Vivel signed off. The two clubs have started an online soccer school for the time being. From January onward, they wish to conduct these sessions on the field and properly embark on their new journey together.

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