La Liga side Sevilla FC is committed to develop football in India at grassroots level through its long term tie-up with I-League side FC Bengaluru United, general director Jose Maria Cruz said on Friday.
In a virtual media interaction, Cruz said India has become one of its main targets for the international strategy as it plans solid long term growth to develop talents so that the homegrown players can be a permanent fixture in European leagues.
"For me, the most important thing is to achieve a more solid long term growth, with more players so that football in India can grow," Cruz said.
According to the owner of FC Bengaluru United Gaurav Manchanda the deal is initially for five years after which they will assess.
With cricket being the most popular sport in the country, Cruz is aware of the challenge that lies ahead as he said being patient is the key word.
"In your country you have to compete against other sports that are extremely popular that attract the masses, that also attracts the attention of boys and girls," Cruz said.
"So it's more complex than in other countries where football or soccer is a much more predominant kind of sport. "But what we believe is that there's no reason to think that a young boy in India has less opportunities or less qualities to play football professionally. We don't think that there's any reason for this not to be the case.
"I'm fully aware that it's very difficult to achieve this level. I'm sure that if we are patient enough and if we do not transform this into something that is completely isolated, but rather something that becomes solid and something that is based on the long term, we'll be able to see how this growth will take place," he added.
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There have been some high-profile Indian players who have plied trade in European football but the Sevilla FC general director said its goal is to create a supply chain and not just "isolated talents".
"It's very important to work on the grassroots, it's very important to generate a suitable number of players with an intermediate level of quality, because isolated talents always appear, they can appear at any point in time, They can appear at any league in any country.
"But if that is not associated with a more solid development, a more long term development, and a more extensive segment, that could become just an anecdote -- an individual anecdote," he added.
The objective of the agreement is to reinforce the presence of the reigning UEFA Europa League champion in the Indian subcontinent, keeping in line with the club's global strategy, and strengthen its presence in one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
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Terming India as its main strategic market, he said: "After analysing the pros and cons, after implementing the much more in depth implementation of our international strategy in a number of areas, we have decided that India is our first and main strategic market.
FC Bengaluru United owner Gaurav Manchanda, it's a "big milestone" for them.
"For us, it's a whole new phase where we can learn, we can grow, and we can share the learnings from Sevilla FC.
"We aim to improve our own quality football with knowledge transfer from Sevilla FC which include many aspects such as the training game tactics, game strategy, academy structure and in general, let's say the Spanish style of club football," he concluded.
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