La Liga side Athletic Bilbao hope to export their model globally including to India – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

The likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona are the names that fans across the world identify Spanish football with. However, there are some other clubs with a similarly rich footballing legacy and Athletic Bilbao is one of them.

While this Basque club doesn't boast the same global fan following like Madrid or Barcelona does, they are the only other team besides Barca and Madrid to never be relegated from La Liga. And they have done this by putting their faith in local talent in a climate where football clubs don't shy away from splurging astronomical amounts on players.

Their policy of signing Basque-only players stands as a model for others to follow especially given the fact that the club has continued to maintain their position as one of the leading clubs not just in Spain but in Europe.

India is witnessing more and more Spanish presence in its footballing eco-system, whether its coaches or players playing in the Indian leagues or the likes of Sevilla FC partnering with FC Bengaluru United.Previously, Atletico Madrid also had a tie-up with an ISL club as the country is being seen as a developing market.

Bilbao president Aitor Elizegi suggested that the Spanish side are open to future knowledge transfer opportunities.

"Every year we receive dozens of collaborative visits of people who come along to exchange information and how things can be improved. We are always open to people from all over the world," said Elizegi. The club is further looking to solidify their foundations and at the same time looking to share these experiences and make it accessible for everyone.

"We are looking at dozens of initiatives where we are trying to implement best practices like protection of minors and also implement projects based on equality and that's not only between men and women but also between race, creed and colour. It is completely open to all people," said Elizegi.

At a time when football is becoming more and more globalized and clubs looking to expand internationally, Bilbao believe that their model is something that can be adopted by other clubs without compromising on growth.

"It's the strength of our club and it is something that we want to export this model. It was something that was established more than 90 years ago and our school has just turned 50. We believe that we are a reference for the 21st Century and for the future too because it is a sustainable development model. We focus on local talent and local training. This is a very difficult path, but it has also been our strength in the last few decades and it is allowing us to compete and to stay competitive in one of the most difficult leagues on earth. But we are also constantly reviewing our projects," said Elizegi.

Bilbao are one of the most successful clubs in Spain with eight league titles and 23 Copa del Rey titles.

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La Liga side Athletic Bilbao hope to export their model globally including to India - The New Indian Express

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