“It’s a pity that I had to go late due to circumstances beyond my control to see the FC Midtjylland academy but if I had gone there earlier, I would have definitely turned down the India team offer to concentrate fully on this great project which all of us must be proud of”

~ Armando Colaco

Well that says it all. Armando Colaco is bowled over by the Great Danes. Move over Ajax Amsterdam, FC Midtjylland is the next big thing in producing world class players. After visiting the FC Midtjylland academy along with Dempo youth coach Mathew D’Costa and marketing in charge Rajiv Kulkarni, Armando Colaco is so excited about the new beginning that he was even ready to turn down the India team offer to nurse this project.

VfL Wolfsburg center back Simon Kjaer is a product of this FC Midtjylland Academy

Dempo officials were on a five day visit to the Midtjylland Academy in Iskat, Herning and not surprisingly, were astounded by the facilities on show there. According to the interim India coach, Shrinivas Dempo must be congratulated for choosing the right academy model to nurture the youth of Goa and India. But what has pleased Armando the most is that the Midtjylland coaches subscribe to the same methods of coaching which Armando himself is trying at Dempo.

“They believe in the same philosophy as we believe here in Dempos, play from behind by keeping the ball possession, build up patiently, spread the game, overlapping, crossing from the wings, cutting back and strong finish. They also believe in having dreams and keeping the players happy at all times without any pressure, the way we do at Dempos allowing the players to express themselves freely on the ground”  

– added the most successful Indian coach in recent memory.

If things go as per plan, Dempo could send some of their players to train there as early as August/September, when the summer coaching camp begins in Denmark. Armando has not ruled out sending some of his players to Midtjylland’s academy in Africa too. However it is unlikely that Dempo will send their established players or players in the age group of 20-21 there. In all probability they will target the younger players in the age group of 14-16 years –

“The way I have seen and analyzed U-14 and U-15, we can definitely send three or four boys at the moment who will do much better in the future than the ones who are there. I have spoken to Soren (academy manger) in this regard and he has agreed to allow few of our young boys in the academy in spite of Jens (one of the coaches) having a different opinion. Jens says that once the boys come, they wont be able to go back again, something which has to be sorted out.”

“Sending our U-17 and U-19 boys are a bit difficult because of our biological growth but nevertheless, there is plenty of potential and a great belief in me that after ten or fifteen years we will be able to sell one or two of our players to European countries”.

The Dempo trio also witnessed the U-21 European qualifier between Denmark and Turkey, which the former won 4-0. In fact the Danish team had four players from the Midtjylland academy. After looking at the way Danes demolish the Turks, Armando was in full praise of the Midtjylland coaches, facilities and work ethics –

“This academy along with the personnel is incredible, awesome! I have no words to express to see how happy I am after going through the academy workouts by the coaches, especially Tony and Lars. They are all full of warmth and enthusiasm, just the way we are at Dempos. Eighteen playgrounds and fantastic academy set up. Wow! Its really great, this tie up, a dream come true for our boys.”

“All along in my coaching instructions to the aspiring coaches, I always used to talk about Ajax model but now after seeing it in Herning, I have to start talking about this FC Midtjylland Youth Academy. I have been given to understand that even Ajax and Juventus have started asking them how they have been able to sell 68 players within just a short span of time. Incredible! speaks volumes of their great youth training.”

What Dempo needs to get in order

The first foundation for Dempo to lay in this illustrious project is to get the infrastructure in place. At the moment they can send their players to Denmark or Africa but those opportunities will be limited. It will make sense to have a decent academy here to cater to more number of kids; thereby spreading their tentacles over a wider region. Dempo definitely need a stadium from a marketing and revenue generation perspective. With the AFC Licensing criteria catching up, it will be sooner rather than later, that clubs in India will have their own stadium.

Mr. Srinivas Dempo is passionate enough to dream and make it big

However the Dempo stadium needs to be different in the sense that it will have to integrate itself with the academy. Armando has revealed that the architect who built the stadium at Herning is very eager to come to India and plan the Dempo stadium. The Herning stadium is an all seated stadium with a capacity of 12,000 odd spectators. In addition they have quarters that house the Academy boys. Dempo could definitely look to build a similar kind of stadium. They could sell the naming rights of the stadium that could fetch them a princely sum- considering they are one of the best clubs in India at the moment.

Interestingly, FC Midtjylland was the first Danish club to sell the stadium name to a sponsor, resulting in the name MCH Arena. The revenue earned from the naming rights could be used to build the academy. Armando has taken a look at some of the plans including the Ajax Amsterdam model (Amsterdam Arena) which houses a convention centre in addition to other facilities. However that stadium was built with contribution form the municipality, something that Dempo may not be lucky enough to get, making such kind of a project is a bit difficult to build. The Midtjylland academy came up in 2004 and within seven years has transformed into one of the best in Europe – something Dempo can definitely emulate and model themselves on.

Selling some of their players a decade down the line could also mean revenue generation and increasing Dempo’s profile in Asia and the world. Midjtylland will also make a headway into the Asian market and many more tie-ups specially with West Asian countries could be on the cards for them.

This deal has earned Dempo the right to dream and dream big. No plans have been accomplished without a dream, and no targets achieved without a desire. Certainly Shrinivas Dempo had one helluva dream. This tie up could make Dempo a worldwide brand. The time starts now for young Shrinivas. He has dreamt big, and now if everything goes as per that dream, he could make it big one day. And this dream could probably shape the lives and change the destiny of young budding footballers in our country. The worlds greatest footballers have come from shanty towns by overcoming adversities and dared to dream big. This academy has given young Goan kids a chance to do just that. Who knows, the next Cristiano Ronaldo could well be from Dempo Sports Club.