Representatives from both clubs spoke in detail about the historic partnership.

After a shaky start to their Indian Super League (ISL) journey, Hyderabad FC are forming big ambitions for the future and have taken a step forward to consolidate themselves among ‘the big guns’ with a partnership with Borussia Dortmund. This historic alliance will see the German giants help HFC with their youth development program, the grassroots level and get the Indian side playing ‘the BVB way.’

When asked about the definitive objectives of both clubs associated, Dortmund’s Managing Director for Asia-Pacific Suresh Letchmanan said, “I think we always look to make long-term relations and not short-term. Anything we do has to be 100% of the best of our abilities to ensure objectives are met. The coaches are bred, born and dedicated from Dortmund and know the philosophy of the club and the measures that need to be met. We will also assess the coaches in Hyderabad and share the knowledge our coaches have.”

“We are here to learn football from Hyderabad FC as well and to guide them through the whole program. This is to make the assessment on how the different age-groups will be lined up. It is also focused, so that coaches and youth can come to Dortmund and learn how programs are lined up locally in Germany. It’s all more than a normal 9-5 job and it’ll be responsible for all the coaching departments at the club to help HFC grow. Hopefully, as soon as we’re able to be on ground, we’ll set the ball moving.”

Adding more on how the quality of coaching at the club can improve, Hyderabad’s co-owner Varun Triupuraneni explained, “One of the biggest challenges is to address the coach education. That is a key area to put development on. Having said that, in the last couple of years, the other ISL teams have invested a lot in coach education space. When you are planning a lot of grassroots initiatives, you want good coaches for the program.”

“One of the key points of this partnership is to help the coaches. We’re organizing coaching seminars, which are operated to help the local coaches. That is one of the key aspects of the grassroots program.”

Both clubs want to take a unique approach to improving the youth development structure at Hyderabad FC and allowing the kids to get the same training opportunities as those in Germany, Letchmanan said, “At the end of the day, this is an organic relationship. It has to be done by taking baby-steps. We can’t build a superstar to play in Bundesliga in one year. We have to be realistic in the relationship. That won’t happen in 1-2 years, it has to be done organically.”

“We’ve got dedicated professional coaches to assess young talents, give them a chance to play when they’re in Dortmund and see how capable they are playing with European players as compared to how they are here in Asia. There are partnerships that are coming in and leaving in the next 12 months, that is not going to happen here. Having this relationship bridges different cultures as well.”

There are also plans to exchange coaches between the two clubs, involving Indian coaches going to Dortmund to learn and BVB ones coming to India to guide the local players and coaches. Tripuraneni explained, “One of the things that is discussed is once normalcy is resumed, there will be a number of visits form Dortmund coaches to Hyderabad. The most important thing for us is the coach education part. We want as many local coaches to interact with Dortmund coaches when they’re in India. They’re in a much better position to evaluate coaches when they’re in India.”

When asked about how this partnership will broaden the ties between the Indian Super League (ISL) and Bundesliga, Letchmanan explained, “This partnership is between two clubs. Of course, we are part of the Bundesliga and anything we do as far as India is concerned, it brings a positive impact to the Bundesliga. It is important for Bundesliga clubs to be part of India.”

Dortmund’s own Managing Director Carsten Cramer also joined in and added, “We are sure as an ambassador for German football. We have two big Germany clubs Dortmund and Bayern and those two will of course help the Bundesliga earn a bigger presence in India. The first important target is to achieve our club targets, but it’ll help the Bundesliga to be connected to Indian football. You need partnerships like this to connect the bridge between the two countries and cultures. It’ll help ISL to attract better names from Europe maybe.”

WATCH: All goals by Hyderabad FC in 2019-20 ISL season

Concerning a potential friendly game between the two clubs in the near future, Letchmanan stated, “Yes, sure, of course. I’m hoping that this will be monumental for both clubs’ first-teams to play a friendly. But, it has to be a serious one, not just fly in and fly out for one game. We want to engage with the community, we want to do CSR activities and do more for the society. I hope at some stage we’ll be able to play a game there.”

Tripuraneni added, “Everyone would like to watch Dortmund in India and it’s not just a short-term partnership, but a mid-term one. Maybe we can start with a legends game and then transition into a first-team game. We know what that will do for both the clubs. That’s not something we’re thinking right now, but it’ll be an amazing experience for us to host BVB soon.”

Hyderabad FC’s youngsters could travel to Dortmund for opportunities to mingle with their European counterparts, but there are no plans for any player-exchanges so far, as the co-founder insisted, “This relationship has nothing to do with the current first-team. It’s nice to have players from Hyderabad coming over to Dortmund, but I think fundamentally we’re looking at development of the youth programs. That’s why we aimed at this for concentration on development of youngsters. But, we have no immediate plans to move players from Dortmund to Hyderabad or vice-versa.”

A major driving point of the deal is for Dortmund to implement their famous fan culture at Hyderabad FC and make them among the most popular clubs in India. When asked how this will be achieved, Letchmanan said, “This is key for us to improve the fan culture. We have a dedicated person in Dortmund who runs all our activities internationally. He will work on bringing the two fan clubs together. It’s difficult to export the Yellow Wall culture into India straightaway, it has to be built organically. We have to see how the stadium fills up in Hyderabad in ISL matches.”

“We can’t even think about fans in stadium right now, so it has to be done in a very organic way. We will be doing it through digital means first and soon as we can travel, we’ll have the Fan Liaison Officer to come over to India to give Hyderabad FC an understanding of how the whole phenomenon of the Dortmund fan culture exists. It’ll be a long-stretched process, but I’m positive we’ll get there one day.”

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Tripuraneni added, “When you talk about Dortmund, it’s a lot about the Yellow Wall. Today, I think more than the fans in the stadium, the involvement of those in the community is the most important aspect. We have a capacity of 15,000 in Hyderabad and you can’t expect them to be in Yellow and Black without proper engagement. We will have people from Dortmund who are part of the fan interaction section of the club who will interact with our team in Hyderabad and get to know what they do, how to keep the presence of BVB throughout the year in the community.”

“We need to learn about the fan club culture in BVB, but have a long way to go. Last season, we had games in Hyderabad after many years. We had some decent crowds with very limited marketing or promotional activities. The school level of football is really good and the participation level is almost 50-50 when compared with cricket. We have to look at it as a 12-month activity and not just a few months of the ISL season.”

When asked what Dortmund expect to gain from the partnership, Letchmanan said, “What’s important for us is to set a footprint in India. It’s all about the BVB way and the whole culture we’ll be looking to export into the system. We’ll try to build our own merchandising program in India, build more Black and Yellow colours in India, get people and media to talk more about Dortmund. We also want to build on working more with Indian brands interested in working with or in Germany. There is a lot of inroads for us as far as the partnership is concerned. We want to be loved in India.”

Finally, speaking about their goals for the upcoming season, the Hyderabad FC co-owner remarked, “We didn’t have a good start in our first season, but we have a fairly strong squad for this one and Albert Roca is coming back. He knows the league well and has been here before. It’ll be a level-playing field at a neutral venue this season. I’m confident we’ll challenge with the big teams this year.”

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