Limerick FC and the Mongolian Football Federation have announced a Community Partnership which they believe will be beneficial for both sides, with Belgutei Batjargul the first to come to the city as part of a planned exchange programme.
After year-long discussions, Mongolian Football Federation manager Enkhjin Batsumber arrived on Shannonside this week as the deal was formally agreed, with Batjargul set to spend time training in the club’s Academy as well as beginning education here.
Batsumber and his colleagues had spent time in the UK last year searching for a potential partner with strong community links.
However, Limerick’s community work impressed the Mongolian FF so much that the pair have now linked up. The partnership will see players, coaches and community staff travel from Mongolia to Ireland and vice-versa, with the potential for Mongolian National Team squads to come and train in Limerick.
Limerick FC Chairman Pat O’Sullivan explained: “Football is the fastest-growing sport in Mongolia, and they would address a lot of issues through sport – that was their concept, which is really a lot like what we do.
“The idea is that the Mongolian Football Federation will send people here to look at our community programmes, some will come over to develop coaching techniques and they will also send some young players to train in our Academy. On the other side of it, we will look at sending some of our community staff and students to Mongolia.”
O’Sullivan added: “They would like to experience our football culture with the idea that some National Team squads would come to Limerick and base themselves here for a couple of weeks as part of their training and development.
“We’re creating a structure where they will come over here. Bruff becomes very important in that aspect because we’d like to think the cost-base would be low in Bruff and it would be able to facilitate a lot of what is required.
“We discussed the importance of the youth structure we have here now. I explained that we only had a handful of players from Limerick playing with our senior team. We want our whole senior team to be from Limerick. We discussed the initiation of our Academy at the time and the fruits of that now.
“The Mongolian Football Federation want to follow a similar pathway which is great. We are having a very open relationship to see how we can help each other.”
On the partnership, Mongolian Football Federation manager Enkhjin Batsumber said: “What Mr. O’Sullivan is doing in Limerick is an ideal model of what we are trying to achieve in Mongolia; basically, bringing football into the community from grassroots level all the way to the top by focussing on and developing young players.
“We want to incorporate football as a social tool to guide youth to a better path and keep them out of trouble. Football is the fastest-growing sport in Mongolia. Mongolians in general are very athletic people – despite our small population we’ve won gold medals in very tough sports like judo and boxing.
“What we need is good management, good investment in infrastructure and to bring people into football at every level, either at grassroots or elite level. We are in discussions to bring young Mongolian players to train in Ireland to see if they can go all the way to the top at professional level. Some kids are already signing professional contracts in Europe, so the potential is there.
“This is an amazing opportunity. I can’t thank Limerick FC and Mr. O’Sullivan enough. We are really looking forward to building this relationship and making it long-term. We hope to organise a National Team Programme where we can come here, train and stay in Bruff. I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to visit here to see it for myself. It has been an amazing experience already.”
A central defender, 16-year-old Belgutei – known as Billy – has attended the academies of Arsenal and Chelsea as well as the Bobby Charlton Soccer & Sports Academy, and he will now spend time training in Limerick’s Academy.
Batsumber said: “Billy is a young player who wants to develop his football skills. It will be a great experience for his future, not only because of football but learning the western culture and interacting with different people and young players here.
“He can become a proper player, get a proper education and gain invaluable experience at a very important age as he moves towards adulthood.”