The overwhelming response to Bayern's visit in May this year when 120,000 fans came to see Oliver Kahn play his last match obviously did not go unnoticed. And so Karl Heize Rummenigge, one of soccer's legends and Bayern's executive director paid a visit to Kolkata to sign a MOU for a soccer academy to be set up in Burdwan on 25 acres of land.
"Our philosophy is different from other clubs of Europe who go into Asia for making money. Our slogan is to create friends and have long-lasting commitments. The way we saw Oliver Kahn being felicitated here when he played in farewell match in Kolkata also showed us how people of West Bengal loved football," he said.
This is so much more a worthwhile project than bottling up already congested Indian roads with millions more cars.
The good thing about this project apart from the technical help with building the academy infrastructure, is that coaches and players get trained by the Bayern staff. To transfer this into actual improvement in performances, Bayern also proposes exchange programs and participation in age group tournaments which would expose the players to the best in Europe. We need dedicated youth academies which commit students so that they can sleep and breathe soccer as well as get their education.
German involvement in another nations sport has had its success stories.
Turkish soccer saw its renaissance when Jupp Derwall, the coach of the 1982 German World Cup squad turned down the chance to coach in the Bundesliga and came to Galatasaray instead. He introduced the club and the rest of Turkey to his training and tactical methods. Even more importantly he passed this knowledge to the present generation of coaches amongs them Fatih Terim, the present coach of the Turkish squad who had such a brilliant Euro. Derwall is widely credited for turning around Turkey and making them a respectable soccer playing nation.
I look forward to the day when an Indian player can play all 90 minutes and perform a sliding tackle.