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Jakarta Post

Tranmere Rovers on mission to boost quality, expand local talent pool

  • Ramadani Saputra
    Ramadani Saputra

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, February 7, 2020   /   07:31 pm
Tranmere Rovers on mission to boost quality, expand local talent pool Santini Group president director Luki Wanandi (right) poses alongside (from right to left) Tranmere Rovers International Soccer Academy representatives Daniel O'Donnell and Matthew Hunter and Santini Group director Wandi Wanandi during a press conference on the club's search for new talent in Jakarta on Friday. Santini Group, one of Indonesia's top conglomerates, bought shares of the third-tier English soccer club in September of last year. (JP/Ramadani Saputra)

National player-turned-coach Bima Sakti said that from experience, it was always a tough task to search for new soccer talent because the talent pool was limited.

Bima, who now coaches the national aged-16 team, said the local leagues that had been organized by Kompas morning daily and TopSkor sport daily had been sources of local talent.

The 44-year-old coach praised the third-tier English soccer club Tranmere Rovers for their visit from Friday to Sunday this week, saying it could be of huge assistance to the local soccer scene in spotting new talent.

Rovers are coming to Jakarta in search of new talent, no more than 15 years of age, to be trained at the club’s soccer academy in Merseyside, England.

The club, in cooperation with Santini Group, one of Indonesia’s top conglomerates, which has invested in the club since September 2018, wants to help expand the soccer talent pool in the country where the sport still faces significant problems such as a lack of skilled players and sportsmanship, match fixing and corrupt management.

“The opportunity to train abroad is good for the players, especially for their mentality. I happen to have experienced that myself when I got the opportunity to practice in Sweden in 1996,” Bima said on Friday.

Santini Group director Wandi Wanandi said one of the company’s goals when buying shares of the soccer club was to search for local talent and give them the opportunity to train in England.

“Maybe in the future, we could establish an academy here or bring the club’s main team to share their experience here,” he said.

Wandi’s brother Luki Wanandi, who is also Santini Group’s president director, said he was impressed by the program that the club and the academy had to offer.

“We are trying to bring their knowledge here to Indonesia. They’re not competing in the Premier League, but they have good program. They observe everything, including player nutrition,” he said, adding that the investment was part of an effort to boost and expand the local soccer industry.

During the visit to Jakarta, Tranmere Rovers, through the team’s international soccer academy representatives, will hold a workshop, coaching clinic and soccer tournament joined by dozens of soccer academies and high schools across Jakarta.

Rovers have a good track record of building their youth team as they were the national champions for the age-16 category in 2017. The club, along with its academy, is adopting sports science developed by Liverpool John Moores University in its daily practice. Through its development program, the club has managed to sell its talent to bigger clubs, causing its value to reach $30 million.

“We understand that as a club we might not be the same as Liverpool or Manchester United. However, the quality that we produce is on equal terms […] to the extent that they would buy our players,” said Matthew Hunter, Rovers academy coordinator and soccer elite development head.

Everton’s central midfielder, Tom Davies, is one of the success stories of the Tranmere Rovers program, as the player started his youth career at the club.

In nurturing new talent, Rovers Academy international technical director Daniel O’Donnell explained that the club did not apply the do-and-do-not culture often found in other clubs.

“That’s not how we work. We don’t try to implant our forces and beliefs among the people. We like to educate them,” he said.

“When looking for young players, we look at the four corners: social, psychological, physical and mental, where [the first two aspects] are the most important. We are looking, ‘are they self-determined?’” he added.