Bangkok: Like many English Premier League (EPL) sides scouting for opportunities in Asia, Tottenham Hotspur have started exploring a long-term tie-up in India to train players at the grassroots level and coaches.
India will be part of the club`s international development project for Asia and it hopes to sew up the deal in the next six months, says Tottenham Hotspur`s Head of Football Development Mark Jones.
Jones, who was in the Thai capital for the Yamaha ASEAN Under-13 football tournament last week, said Tottenham Hotspur, commonly referred to as Spurs, is looking for an Indian partner to help it understand the culture before finalising its plans.
"The club has done some research on India. We are looking for some regional partners who can help us understand the culture of the country. There is no point in our team landing there without knowing how things work in the country," Jones said.
"Finding regional support with local coaches helps us understand how things run in the country. Over a period of time, we can develop the Indian coaches too."
Spurs, he says, want to concentrate on the school programmes and make football a part of the curriculum. "We have a vision for India and we do not want to limit ourselves to holding only soccer camps on holidays."
EPL teams like Arsenal and Chelsea have also shown interest in Indian football, but Spurs, insists Jones, have a clear-cut long-term vision.
"It is different. They come out with franchise while what we do is to have a long-term plan to develop the local coaches along with the players."
Assessing the performance of Indian boys here, Jones said they have to work more on their movements off the ball.
"The focus and the intent is there. But they need to learn to get off the ball and work on their movement off the ball," he said.
"Then it will be a lot easier for them to find spaces in one-two passing. But if you are not spending time off the ball, you are making it difficult for yourself."
Jones feels the Asian players need proper coaching.
"We coach our players with a lot more intensity. We are lucky in England to have some really hard taskmasters. There are good coaches in Asia as well, but we want to help them develop and see things differently," he said.
Spurs have launched their Asian development programme in Malaysia on a two-year partnership with marketing firm Football Focus Asia. This will give footballers aged 10-18, across all regions, the opportunity to experience professional football training with Spurs Football Development team of coaches.
The club is even setting up a full-time academy in Singapore and plans to pursue similar development goals in other Asian countries, including India.
"We have an academy in England with centres all over the country, but in Singapore we will have our first full-fledged academy."
The aim of the programme, Jones says, is to improve the standard of football in Asia at the grassroots level through regular camps and visits to Britain by teams from the region.
"As a football academy, we are focussing more on grassroots. Only selected kids go to academies and we want to create possibilities for everyone," he said.
"We have been working in Malyasia and Singapore and now Thailand, where we were invited by Yamaha to coach their under-13 sides."
The club has been punctilious in its coaching methods and insists that all its centres follow the same training methods.
"We go by our academy`s philosophy which is core skills training, a lot of opposed (skill) and unopposed (technique) coaching, and then turning it into team-centric skills. We wish to see football develop all over the world. We are not telling them this is how you should do it, but this is how we do it."
Jones feels that Asia has a huge potential that needs to be tapped.
"We were surprised to see that the players are technically very good. However, it is the eating habits which is the basic difference between the Asians and Europeans. Food and dietary requirements are huge in our country as our players are athletes," he said.
"Also, heat is a challenge which the Asian kids face."