Liverpool Plans to Build Indonesian Football Academy
Indonesia could be in line for Southeast Asia’s first permanent football academy to develop youngsters’ talent under plans being considered by English Premier League Club Liverpool.
The club is eager to boost its presence in Asia through its youth wing, the Liverpool International Football Academy.
Should the plan take off, Indonesia will be the first country in Asia that the Liverpool Academy will call home, with the prospect of Indonesian students getting a direct line to try out to play in the Premier League.
The Anfield club has already sent its youth coaches twice this year to Jakarta.
After celebrated former Reds striker Ian Rush presided over one clinic in May, the club last Saturday launched eight days of activities to promote football education.
Two coaches are conducting football clinics with almost 200 children and making outreach visits to schools.
The British Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta has been responsible for setting up the links to the club, and executive director Chris Wren said now the academy’s frequent visits were hoped to open the door to bolder plans.
“There is a plan to establish a Liverpool Academy in Jakarta next year. Assuming this [visit] is successful and things go as planned, it could be under way as early as May,” said Wren, a Liverpool native who has worked closely with club officials.
BritCham began holding football activities several years ago as part of the corporate social responsibility programs of British companies in Indonesia.
A key initiative of the program, Giving Kids a Sporting Chance, was a youth league in Jonggol, West Java, in which 3,000 children now play.
In his visit in May, Rush was apparently so impressed that the second series of clinics was set up.
Liverpool Academy coaches Adam Flynn and Ben Parsonage are running the clinics at Jakarta’s Bung Karno sports complex.
Rush is due to fly in to assist in other initiatives later this week.
This visit is also being used as a detailed feasibility study for the permanent academy, Wren said.
“The dream is that what started as a community idea three years ago could end up in a Premier League star for Indonesia, someone who could represent the best of the country,” he said.
“What excited Ian Rush in May is that a third of Indonesia is under 18, and that there’s so much interest in football. There is too much emphasis on Jakarta, but some of the best talent can be found in the provinces, maybe in kids who now only have a can to kick around rather than a football.”
Wren hoped any academy — likely to be in Jakarta — would be Indonesian in style.
“I’d like to see an ordinary school with the national curriculum and focusing on football first then other sports,” he said. “It would have boarding facilities and be open to all religions.”
Liverpool officials were keen on holding a nationwide talent search, with exceptional players being granted scholarships.
Academy coaches would come from England and be accredited by the English Football Association.
Wren warned that the plans rested on corporate investors willing to fund the school. “We would need to find partners to invest, the kind prepared not to see any profit for the first few years,” he said.
“Football is a very expensive business, but I believe there would be no end of interest. The challenge will be finding partners who feel the passion of what it’s all about. If that challenge can be met, the rest of it will fall into place.”
News Source: The Jakarta Globe