Interestingly league giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid were missing from the press meet held in the capital on Tuesday.
The officials of 18 LaLiga clubs were present in New Delhi on Tuesday with the representatives of the league at a press meet. Real Madrid and FC Barcelona were the only clubs who were missing from the roster.
The LaLiga event had much to offer with the club officials being there together to share their journey in Spain’s top flight with the Indian masses.
Out of the 18 teams, Girona have been in India before and duly went away after winning both their games in the Toyota Yaris LaLiga World. Their President, Delfi Geli was delighted by the hospitality of hosts Kerala Blasters.
“We were surprised by the stadium and the place, but they need to improve with the funds and spending. There are a lot of possibilities. To play football, the grass has to be good and Kochi had good turf to offer,” he said.
“It was disheartening to see the condition of Kochi or rather Kerala on a whole after we left. We sent our condolences to the authorities for the tragic floods,” he added.
He further said that India needs a system from the fundamentals to the highest values as well as the technical aspects. Until then, we cannot expect any talent coming up anytime soon to play at the LaLiga level.
“We do not have any short-term plans for setting up an academy and as far as tapping talent from India is concerned, we prefer taking players from our set schools all over the world,” the president bid adieu with this statement.
The Espanyol General Marketing Director, Antoni Alegre, on the other hand said, “We have something to offer not only in India, but to the world. First is the formation of players, the training basically. The second one is to try and establish a relationship with India and it’s market by just not coming once and not coming again in years, but to stay here and try to link football in both countries.”
Celta Vigo, SD Eibar, Real Sociedad and Deportivo Alaves were of the same opinion in terms of tapping or coming to India for pre-season. They look at India as a strategic pool of opportunities. SD Eibar’s representative said, “We are trying to have good knowledge about the Indian market and this culture. One of the objectives for Eibar is to form a technical staff and try to come here for the pre-season.”
“Through LaLiga, all the clubs will be interested in coming to India and making LaLiga bigger here,” said Vigo’s Commercial Director, Carlos Salvador.
Ashique Kuruniyan was with Villarreal’s C team for a year, but had to return home due to his injury and with him, Mandar Rao was also there for a trial.
“We had Ashique Kuruniyan and it was a great experience. We are planning to see more like him and it was a great experience for him. Mandar was with us too and he loved it as well,” said the Yellow Submarines’ Director of International Business Juan Anton.
Speaking on the behalf of Levante and Valencia as well he continued, “We are experts in developing grassroots. We need to look at the younger players because you can still influence them and looking at the ISL to get players is not right for us.”
“For us it will be fantastic to play here. We will be happy to come to India to play but it is not so easy to setup against any Indian team because it is difficult to find local investors,” he said representing the teams from the same state.
Meanwhile, LaLiga representative Mayur Bhanji, their Asian Communications Manager laid down the importance of India in the league’s plans.
“Cricket will never become number two. So, we need to work to know who we (LaLiga) really are. We have got an office here and we are the only foreign football league to have a base here.” He added, “We are trying each and everything to reach the masses. We have opened soccer schools to aim at the grassroots and we brought Girona here not so long ago.”