The AMM Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Indian business conglomerate Murugappa Group, sees football, the most popular sport in the world, as a spark that can ignite social change.
Starting July 2023, the foundation becomes the official Indian youth development partner with one of Europe’s biggest football clubs, Borussia Dortmund (BVB). The club name acronym expands to Ballspielverein Borussia 09.
“The dream was to try and bring BVB to India in some capacity. Many discussions followed and, most importantly, the stars aligned,” said Veeru Muruggapan, Head of Sport, AMM Foundation.
The team-up, which involves the Murugappa Youth Football Academy (MYFA), looks to benefit from the German club’s extensive expertise and knowhow in the areas of academy and youth football, grassroots to player development, coaches’ training, organisational planning and long-term infrastructure development.
Both partners have the mutual goal of widening the positive impact of football on the lives of the youth. The AMM Foundation has been running its football academy since 2015 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and, with BVB’s help, is set to expand MYFA holistically across India in the coming years.
“At MYFA and the AMM Foundation, our endeavour has always been to use sport as a vehicle for social change and social inclusion. In BVB, we find a like-minded partner who resonates with that goal, and we are certain that together we will improve the lives of not only the footballers but the coaches as well,” said MM Murugappan, Member, Board of Trustees, AMM Foundation, and Former Executive Chairman, Murugappa Group.
The primary objective of MYFA is not to produce professional football players but to inculcate discipline in students through the game, while also helping them complete their studies. The academy’s projects are part of efforts to impart values of sportsmanship, discipline, teamwork, mental health, leadership, and respect through the medium of football and sport to youth from economically disadvantaged communities.
A team from BVB, including Dr Suresh Letchmanan (Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, BVB), Julian Wasserfuhr (Coordinator of Talent Development, BVB Evonik Football Academy Dortmund), and Verena Leidinger (Manager, International and New Business, APAC) visited MYFA in Chennai in February 2023 for a three-day preliminary camp, conducting coaching drills and classroom knowledge sessions with the aspiring players and coaches.
Germany’s youth development system has served as a standard for football worldwide. The most notable graduates of the Dortmund academy in recent years include Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Nuri Sahin, Lars Ricken, Christian Pulisic, and Youssoufa Moukoko. MYFA and the AMM Foundation are looking to assimilate the system’s knowledge and experience to allow football-enabled social development in India to flourish.
“Our community of 300+ players, along with the coaching staff, is excited to learn and grow through this partnership with BVB, honing their technical skills, physical conditioning, mental preparation, among other aspects. This will certainly take our objective of grooming and developing these youngsters to the next level in the years to come, not only in Tamil Nadu but all over India,” said Narayanan Hariharan, Senior Associate Vice-President & Chief Executive, AMM Foundation.
Dr Letchmanan said that he was impressed with the MYFA setup and the potential synergy of joining forces with the AMM Foundation.
“We share a common vision [with AMM] of using sport, particularly football, as a catalyst for positive change in society. We aim to make a lasting impact on the lives of young individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds across India,” he said.
Borussia Dortmund, which this season pushed eventual champions Bayern Munich right until the final day in Germany’s football league, the Bundesliga, has millions of fans in South Asia and India. The popularity of the club’s star players, coupled with its expertise in youth development and mentorship, make it an attractive partner.
Benedikt Scholz (Director, Internationalisation & Commercial Partnerships, and Managing Director, BVB Fußballakademie GmbH) stated that Dortmund’s rich football heritage coupled with expertise in youth development would contribute to the holistic growth of MYFA. “Together, we will empower young players and coaches, nurturing their skills, discipline, teamwork, and leadership, as we strive to create a brighter future through football,” he added.