Dempo Sports Club has added another feather in its already illustrious cap – the deal with FC Midtjylland, a Danish Club renowned for its youth development programmes. Early on Sunday morning, Dempo Sports Club secretary cum coach Armando Colaco, Dempo Juniors coach Matthew D’Costa and marketing in-charge Rajiv Kulkarni headed off to Denmark on a five day visit to get an idea on how the Danish club functions, administratively and technically. They will interact with FC Midtjylland officials and take a look at their facilities and most importantly their academy – with an eye on replicating it in Goa. The deal was making the rounds for quite sometime now with club President Mr. Shrinivas Dempo making frequent visits to Denmark to finalize the terms and conditions.
Disclosing this at a press briefing last Wednesday, Armando Colaco said there is an MoU between FC Midtjylland Club and Dempo SC and that the aim of Dempo is to produce good footballers through mutual exchange programme between the two clubs. It was also revealed that at least two Dempo players would travel to Denmark and train there to improve their skills and possibly go on to play in the European Leagues. This visit was initially planned somewhere in April but had to be put off until June since both Dempo and FC Midtjylland were right in the middle of their gruelling league schedule. There will possibly be an even longer trip somewhere in July/August where assistant coach Mauricio Afonso and some promising juniors along with youth coach Matthew D’Costa could make the trip to get first hand knowledge about the Danish clubs famed academy and club structure. Their trip to Denmark in July would coincide with FC Midtjylland’s summer training programmes and would possibly give coach Matthew and the junior players a crash course in basic footballing lessons. Colaco also stated that their visit will also help them study various aspects of “creating players” through proper diet regimen, organisation etc.
Shrinivas Dempo has time and again stressed that Indian football is at crossroads and needs to move to the next level in terms of professionalism, marketing and developing a better club structure. The deal will also incorporate a few lessons in administration – possibly marketing too and ways and means to achieve a sustainable model for a football club. With football in India delivering little or no returns to its investors, the club chairman has sought to follow the European model of revenue earning and sustainability in a bid to control the spiraling costs that an Indian football team incurs on its owners.
How the deal benefits Dempo?
It is reliably learnt that the chairman has invested in businesses too in Denmark, other than the deal with FC Midtjylland, leading many to believe that this tie up will be a long lasting relationship unlike the East Bengal- Leicester, Wolverhampton Wanderers-JCT or Bayern Munich- Mohun Bagan deals. After the initial flirting with Fulham last year, there were rumours that Dempo would even tie up with Argentinian club Boca Juniors before finally tying up with the Danish club. In fact Armando Colaco and Shrinivas Dempo had even visited Fulham to sign the deal but for some reason – mostly due to Fulhams weak financial base – things didn’t work out.
This deal with FC Midtjylland though is definitely something special in Indian football. Never before has such a comprehensive and long term deal been signed before in Indian football that incorporates everything form administration to revenue models to training methods and finally developing young talent. The reason why probably many of the other deals in India failed was perhaps due to the fact that they were too short term. We had Celtic tie up with Mahindra to organize the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge – an inter school event throughout India – where six promising players were selected to train under Celtic coaches in Bangalore and two were sent to Scotland for further training. We also had the Bajaj Allianz Talent Hunt where six youngsters were sent to train for a week with Bayern Munich coaches at the Allianz Arena. But these programmes failed probably because they were of limited duration. For footballers to ultimately develop, a longer duration of training and high performance coaching is required. That is also the reason why probably the Wolves-JCT or the Bagan-Bayern deal hasn’t yielded success. Three of Goa’s promising youngsters – Joshua Vaz, Aiken Dias and Charlton Vaz also went to Portugal under a similar deal that the GFA had with the University of Porto and the Vitoria Guimaraes Academy – one of Portugal’s most famous academies that produced players of the caliber of Luis Figo. They stayed there for a year and trained but unfortunately didn’t make an impact on the footballing scene in Goa.
The lessons learnt from all these not so satisfactory partnerships is that a longer duration of training and sustained coaching is required to make India’s footballers brush shoulders with the Europeans. And this is something that has been addressed in FC Midtylland deal. Armando has made it clear that Dempo players will train there for a longer duration in the hope that they make it to the European Leagues. There is a possibility that Dempo’s players will also train the FC Midtjylland’s academy in Ghana. Keeping Dempo’s players there for a longer duration should be paramount if they want to develop them into players of international standard. In the long run, the tie-up could benefit the Danish Club too as they could probably sell players to bigger European clubs. Some of the players from the Midtjylland academy could also come and play in the I-League thus increasing the quality and profile of the league in India. With the club licensing criteria catching up with the clubs, the day will not be far when all the I-League clubs will have to compulsorily own a residential academy. And if that happens, you can be sure that Dempo will have a head start and the expertise to have one of the best academies in India.
The next aspect that Dempo could look forward to in this partnership would be in the administrative side and making the club a sustainable business proposition. Clubs in India have burnt cash all along without getting even a fraction in return. As revealed by Armando, Midtjylland would offer Dempo valuable advice in administration and marketing and develop their fan base programmes in a bid to earn revenue for the club. Streamlining the administration and building a sustainable revenue model would be high on Dempo’s wish list. This deal will definitely increase Dempo’s profile in India, while Dempo’s near regular presence in Asian football competitions would mean that FC Midtjylland would have a presence in West Asian countries also – a win-win situation for both teams.
This is definitely a path breaking moment for both clubs. The era of professionalism is slowly but surely dawning in India. With foreign parties showing interest in India and acknowledging the tremendous potential that India has, things definitely look bright for Indian football. All we need presently are some level-headed and passionate administrators like Shrinivas Dempo who will usher in professionalism and herald a new era for Indian football.