As BEC-Tero Sasana seek to appoint a new coach following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat away to Ratchaburi and the subsequent dismissal of Bozidar Bandovic, we catch up with the club’s General Manager Robert Procureur. Robert, tasked with leading Tero into an exciting future, shares with us his experience and vision.
First I was involved in football in Europe. I worked in different teams in Europe and then I stopped working in football for a while to do normal business in Thailand. But I was a personal friend of Arsene Wenger and Jean-Marc Guillou and when I met them they asked me why don’t I open an academy the way we had previously in Africa. We had a very successful academy there – we discovered big players: Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Gervinho, Zokora, all big players who are now in the Ivory Coast national team. And then I told them, “Yeah, why not, I will do that, I will join you to do this kind of thing”.
Academy for Arsene
So I opened an academy in Thailand, in Vietnam and in Egypt. I wanted to have a team for my young boys who got to 12 years old because we recruited more than 5000 kids and get 16 good young boys. Then I had a call from a friend of mine, Ronarit Suwaja from Siam Sport who told me if I wanted to take a team maybe we could join forces to make it happen. So I formed a 50-50 partnership with Siam Sport to take over a Division 2 team, Muang Thong.
At that time I controlled all the players, all the sporting side for the 5 years I was there and it was very successful. We had great achievements not only in the Thai League where we won 4 consecutive championships but also in the AFC Cup, where we reached the semi-final.
Three years ago, I arrived at BEC-Tero. I had reached the point where it was time for me to move on from Muang Thong because they had a new vision. We had started out with just the First Team and we didn’t have as much potential as we have here at Tero but it grew fast after that. Then they wanted to invest a lot in the stadium and other areas that I could not support financially so I felt it was better that I move elsewhere and concentrate on my technical role and job as General Manager. My role here is exactly the same as it was at Muang Thong. Exactly the same.
We need a new coach as soon as possible and I hope that we can appoint someone in the next 10 days. Whoever comes in needs time to get to know Thai football, the mentality of the players and to prepare the team for the next game. When a team loses several matches in a short period of time, someone has to pay the price. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the coach but I would like to place on record our thanks and appreciation to him for his hard work and commitment while he was in charge and we wish him well in the future.
We know only too well that we need a new stadium. If we want to improve now, the best piece of business we can do, better than any player, is to have a new stadium. We can have a bigger crowd, more sponsors, more fans, this is so important for us if we want to grow. But it’s very difficult to get the land. At the moment we are looking into land on Sukhumvit and in Bang Na and other places. We hope we will finalise plans for a new stadium this year and within one year we’re going to have it for sure. Brian the President really has the desire to do it. We are going to invest huge money in the stadium, for sure.
Am sure Thailand can do well in the World Cup. But it needs a national goodwill. Also it’s about politics, sponsors, the FA. It’s not so difficult to do it. We have to open three academies. We choose a player from 12 years old and we put them in national academies, one in the north, one in the centre and one in the south. We use one style of football: the French style, the English style, or more the German style and we bring coaches from that country. And they coach these boys from 12 to 18 years old. No more than 20 players – we make a selection of 20 in each area and we take these best 60 players and work with them for 6 years. You shouldn’t stop after 2 years. They stay together for 6 years, playing in international tournaments and following them everywhere. In the meantime you have to have an agreement among the top clubs in the Thai Premier League that they send their 2 best young boys to Europe. Am talking about players aged 18-21 years old. For example, for me, send Tanaboon and Chanathip, send them to Europe. The only thing is you send them to Europe and they are nothing. So you have to have a sponsor for each player. Maybe 13, 14 or 15 players will succeed and stay there and all the others will come back here and will bring a lot to the Thai League. The ones who stay there will form the backbone of the national team. If you get 5, 6, 7 players who play abroad, you can succeed. If they stay in the Thai League, you will never, ever get to the World Cup.
Kiatisuk, the national team coach, I like what he is doing, I like his thinking, the way he gives the young boys a game, which is very brave. He doesn’t necessarily take the best players but selects those with the best potential for the future. He is doing good work with the younger boys, the 12-13 year olds. It’s very important to have a good coach. But the key is also to send them overseas. But all the teams have to agree on that, to send the players overseas. Japan had this kind of programme 30 years ago, and it was really successful for them.