ONE of the Bundesliga’s biggest teams, Borussia Dortmund, has touched down in Forrestfield to run a football academy in partnership with Forrestfield United Football Club.
The one-week academy started October 2, with Dortmund head of international youth and women’s development Julie Farr, Asia Pacific managing director Suresh Letchmanan and club legend and former men’s team assistant coach Jorg Heinrich making the trip into Perth to train the kids.
Mr Heinrich played in Borussia Dortmund’s men’s side when they won the Champions League against Juventus Turin in 1997, and played in a UEFA cup final alongside playing in two German Championships for the side.
Mr Heinrich said the kids involved in camp were picking up the skills quickly and was glad to see them enjoying the sessions.
“One of our philosophies in the club is to really get them enjoying the game,’’ he said.
“The most important reason we come out here is to see the faces of the kids and see them smiling.”
Mr Letchmanan said just under 45 boys and girls are involved in the program, which was originally planned earlier for Sydney until Covid delayed the academy.
“We’ve been doing quite a bit of activities in and around the Asian rim for the past nine years, and the only piece of the puzzle that was missing was Australia.”
He said Dortmund has completed academy programs in Japan, China, Korea and Africa, but now the club is looking to expand into Australia and Perth, with this being the first time the club has come to WA.
“Forrestfield (United Football Club) is black and yellow, and the colours really match our colours as well, and that put two and two together.
“It’s a community club, with a massive reach for youth – it all fits in.’’
Forrestfield United Football Club president Paul Mansfield said aside from the club colours matching, the two clubs were also heavily community driven.
“Their DNA is very much community based, they want to bring up grassroots players and turn them into professionals.
“At Forrestfield, we’re similar – it’s all about our youth,” he said.
Mr Mansfield said that the academy wasn’t just for Forrestfield players, with youth as far as Kwinana and Armadale travelling to be a part of the camp.
He said in the future he hoped to set up a Dortmund academy in which young players could be spotted and given opportunities to play in the big European leagues.
“(Dortmund) are not here to make money and we’re not trying to do the same – we’re just trying to provide an extra level.
“Once we build the academy for elite players, (they’ll get) opportunities to get spotted and have trials overseas,” he said.
Ms Farr said that all the kids involved in the program were enjoying their experience at the academy, but that it also wasn’t a walk in the park either.
“Most of them don’t really understand the difference from our training concepts compared to what they may be used to here.
“It’s even more important for the coaches to see how we structure our training, and what we focus on and how we implement it.
“That’s more important, then just giving the experience to the kids,” she said.
Ms Farr said she and Mr Heinrich have been enjoying their time in Australia so far despite the stormy weather at the start of trip, and have found some time to go hand feed some kangaroos in between their busy schedules.
“I love Western Australia, Perth is a very nice city and I’m glad to be back here,” she said.