Premier League's Director of Football Administration Richard Garlick was present for the first ever Premier League-Indian Super League (ISL) Youth Games being held in Mumbai.
Garlick, who is a former FA Councillor and a Director of Football Administration at West Bromwich Albion, spoke about the importance of knowledge-exchange programmes and youth development in an interview at the event. The Youth Games are part of the inaugural Premier League Football Development Week, which is being held in Mumbai from 3 to 6 March 2019.
Q. What is the need for such exchange programmes and workshops, how does it help Indian football?
A. We had an agreement with the ISL since 2014 and we have been doing exchange programs with them over the last few years. ISL clubs and staffs come over and see our academies in action, getting to know what happens on a match-day. They (ISL) really want to renew the focus on youth development now. It's all about youth development.
We're looking at coaching pathways, how we develop players not only as footballers but also as people. We want to support the ISL coaches and how might improve their coaching pathways, help them identify how they are going to improve their games programme, all to benefit the youth development that we see here today. Hopefully, with the games against Leicester and Arsenal here, we see more and more bringing teams to the ISL and vice versa, ISL teams going over to the UK to share knowledge and gain an understanding of how we can help develop the youth.
I see we are trying to do this on a more annual basis, with more U-14 and U-15 teams coming over. We would like to bring over more senior teams. In terms of youth development, we would be happy to bring teams of 12s up to 23s.
Q. How important is scouting in youth development by clubs?
A. Scouting is the life of most clubs. You have your organic growth, which is your academy and you have your external recruitment. Certainly, from a talent spotting point of view, you can spot them at any age. Every player is different. Some of them are younger, some of them take longer to shine. Opportunities like this, opportunities to get spotted, there will be people out there attending these games, keeping an eye on talent. I described the team sheet myself, just in case I spot anyone for the future, moving forward. Not that I work for a club in the Premier League. As someone who has been out to scout in the past, you do spot talents. You see that talent appear, again and again, you know you have found someone there.
Q. Is it important for Premier League to have talents seep in from academies like that of Reliance and Mumbai?
A. We are a league that attracts worldwide talent. We try to attract the best players from all over the world to compete with the best players made in England. Our philosophy is the best with the best. I think we have got 63 different nationalities that are represented in the Premier League and we would be open to having more nationals come in. Hopefully, it won't be too long before we see Indian players get into the Premier League.
The players who are playing today, they will benefit from playing against players from the Premier League. Maybe they will find it's different from a physical, tactical, technical point of view, even from an emotional point of view.
Q. How can Premier League contribute to coaches coming to India from the UK?
A. We had a workshop yesterday where we heard about Arsenal coaching 40 local coaches. If we can coach 40 coaches and then 40 coaches can go and coach 40 other coaches, that's how it cascades down. It's all about spreading the word. That's where you can see the importance of exchange programmes and knowledge sharing.
Q. Do you see Premier League helping the ISL?
The Premier League is not here to set up a PL academy or an academy on behalf of its clubs. I would hope that PL teams would want to participate in this programme, sending their coaches oversees over a period of time, it would benefit them as well. A new experience in a different environemnt, different challenges as well.
In relation to the clubs, they may decide that they want to come out and explore their own opportunities as well. They are independant clubs, a lot have been out here and generate interest.
Q. How can India produce technical players?
A. It comes back to coaching, to facilities, comes back to creating game programmes. At the Premier League, the best talents play against the best talents. In terms of our agreement with the ISL since 2014, I think you have got to allow time for things to develop. I was over here in 2015 with Delhi Dynamos as part of West Brom and I have seen the progression from where it was then to where it is now.
In England we introuced the Elite Player Plan and it has taken us seven years to get to where we wanted to be, that is with all the infrastructure and all the clubs we got there. You have to be patient. I've seen your players, I don't think it is the technical side of things, I think it's creating a competitive environment.