Blackburn owners target league's first Indian star
Blackburn Rovers' owners will use their club's scouting network to discover the Premier League's first Indian star. Rovers were bought by Indian poultry firm Venky's last year and Balaji Rao, the club's co-owner, is determined to use Blackburn's resources to unearth gifted young players from his country.
Academy coaches will travel to India soon for a talent-hunting mission and Rao wants four or five youngsters to come England to train at the club's academy for two years. Rao is keen for Blackburn to establish a new football academy in his home region of Pune and he also hopes to bring Rovers to India for an exhibition match in the near future.
"I plan to have an academy in Pune in the next two years," Rao told the Lancashire Telegraph. "In fact officials from Blackburn Rovers academy will be coming to India to talent hunt soon. They will select four to five youngsters who will train at the academy in England for two years. Hopefully, one will play for the main team two years from now.
"I want to be the first person to get an Indian playing in the EPL. If at least one Indian player makes it to the EPL my dream is done. I am planning to start a Venky's football team in the next two years which will play in the Indian League. If okayed by the board I intend to name it Blackburn Rovers Pune."
Although Rao is keen to strengthen Rovers' links with India, he knows the club needs more top players to ensure Blackburn remain in the Premier League, while also increasing recognition of the club around the world.
Unsuccessful moves for former England captain David Beckham and Brazilian veteran Ronaldinho showed Blackburn's ambition and Rao won't rest until he has delivered a big-name signing to the Ewood Park fans.
"Yes we were trying to get Beckham, then we went lax on it as we were pursuing Ronaldinho," he said. "Nevertheless, I assure you we'll get a big name playing for us pretty soon. The first time as owners, they (Rovers fans) welcomed us so well. The feeling is overwhelming. It's something great."