Ricken hopes to see Sailors' academy players progress to BVB set-up
Ex-Germany international Ricken hopes their partnership with Sailors will allow young footballers from S'pore to make their way into Dortmund's youth teams
Former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Lars Ricken hopes that the German club's new collaboration with the Lion City Sailors will open up a path for young and promising footballers from Singapore to make their way into Dortmund's youth teams.
Under a 2½-year partnership announced by the Bundesliga giants and the Singapore Premier League side at a virtual press conference on Saturday, the Bishan-based Sailors will send their top youth players for an annual two-week training camp with Dortmund (BVB), which could start next year.
Friendly matches will also be lined up. Those who impress will be given another week-long stint with Dortmund's Under-23s.
"We don't rule out the chance that local youth players could make their way into the Borussia Dortmund youth system," said Ricken, who is now director of Dortmund's Youth Performance Centre.
"We hope it will happen in our cooperation with the Sailors and we hope to see (their) players in our environment."
Ricken, 45, told The New Paper on the sidelines of the virtual conference that youth footballers in South-east Asia possess the right traits but, to improve further, they will need a higher level of training.
"I visited a few academies in South-east Asia, Thailand and Singapore previously," said the former Germany international.
"I saw that the players in South-east Asia are very focused and disciplined from a young age.
"Mentality is quite similar to those in Germany, and the next step would be to train at a higher level."
When asked about a target date for the first training camp, Sailors' chief executive Chew Chun-Liang said: "We will be taking a measured approach and starting slow.
"Health and safety of both sides' players and staff are important."
He mentioned the possibility of the training camp being held next year, should the situation allow.
The partnership will kick off with education and coaching sessions conducted virtually, with academy players being given access to BVB's learning platform.
This is not Dortmund's first partnership with a local club. Their previous collaboration with Warriors FC ended prematurely, with the latter suspending operations a year into the deal.
However, the stint allowed Dortmund to build a relationship with Singapore, said BVB's Asia Pacific managing director Suresh Letchmanan.
Referring to the new partnership, Suresh said: "Both clubs are dynamic and progressive brands with a commitment to developing talented youth players and these common beliefs make the two organisations ideally suited."
The partnership also includes annual workshops by BVB staff on topics such as talent identification, sports medicine and sports science, psychology, nutrition, data and match analytics, fan-engagement and match-day experience.
This is another major move by the Sailors, who have dominated the headlines with a series of eye-catching deals.
The SPL's first privatised club have splashed the cash on various fronts, such as a $10 million training facility due to open next April and the $2.9m record transfer of Brazilian Diego Lopes in January.
In May, the club signed national captain Hariss Harun, and followed that up with the capture of Asian Champions League-winning tactician Kim Do-hoon as their coach.
Chew has lofty ambitions for the future, aiming to grow the club to be one of the best in the region.
"To get there, we must learn from the best, and in BVB we have found a partner that is among the best in the world," he said.
"We share similar ambitions with Dortmund, to become a home for young talents."