New academy highlights "business opportunities"

USA-based Velletri Soccer Group Inc, a newly founded football player development organisation with Swedish management, has begun operations in Asia starting with the Philippines. Football is taught according to the IFK Göteborg youth development program ‘Secrets of Soccer’ which VSG has the rights to use and the club’s academy executive, Roger Gustafsson, is also a consultant to VSG. The Philippine school anticipates a first quarter 2007 intake of "35 academy players" and "836 soccer students". VSG claims to also operate in Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, and Trinidad & Tobago with China, Malaysia, Haiti, Mexico, Paraguay and South Africa scheduled to join in 2007. Ghana’s football national Derek Boateng (pictured) is a VSG ‘ambassador’.

“Our business idea is to raise the best soccer players in the world. This is done with a new, modern and responsible concept by running academies, primarily in developing countries, where school education and professional soccer training are combined already from pre-school," Jan Källman, VSG Communication Manager, told Christer Nilsson of Scandasia. “VSG is somehow similar to a charity where you sponsor a child’s education and upbringing but we are also different because we have a clear sports and business focus."

The actual financial core of the program is the 'Soccer Sponsorship' of a student by individuals and companies. The concept starts in early ages, when the children are six years old. "The Soccer Sponsorships are ... an investment that yields a profit if the student becomes a professional soccer player," the company states.

"VSG is a new, different and independent player on the market and will be a major supplier of soccer talents to professional European clubs as well as national clubs. VSG has a clear commercial focus and offers different business opportunities for sponsors and partners through various products," Källman further explained. "Asian players are hot in European clubs following the last World Cup in Japan and South Korea. And soccer is big business in Asia. Look at all corporate sponsors from Asian countries that support soccer one way or another ... VSG intends to be a responsible actor in this growing soccer, market, producing great players and well educated human beings, often in liaison with charity organizations, as well as making money for sponsors and partners."