EAST BENGAL's youth development efforts got much of a boost when Spanish football giants Real Madrid agreed to join hands with them to conduct short football coaching camps in their residential academy.
This grassroots project, along with a residential academy for talented kids, has been in the pipeline for a while now. Last year, major moves happened on this regard when TFA and Pune FC youth development veteran Ranjan Chowdhury was roped in by the Kolkata club.
Around the same time, reports of a partnership with German Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim caught a lot of traction but nothing much came out of it. But with Real Madrid, East Bengal have definitely got a much better deal.
The plan is that the La Liga club will send its technical team down to the East Bengal academy who will work with the coaches to train the kids in basic skills for about 15 days. Later, a few boys hand-picked from the lot will get a chance to go to Madrid and train over there for a while.
While it's not a long-term academy partnership deal like DSK Shivajians have with Premier League club Liverpool FC, it is no doubt an added incentive for the cadets in the East Bengal academy to work harder. A trip to Madrid, if it happens, will also give the youngsters a few lessons that they will remember for life.
Real Madrid are definitely using this opportunity to test the waters in the Indian market and if they get a positive response they may commit to deeper involvements.
The East Bengal residential academy will be launched tomorrow. Indian football legends I M Vijayan and Baichung Bhutia will be present at the occasion.