In parts of the world where football is only developing, one would probably think that people involved in the sport would be looking towards the best of the best for inspiration. When it comes to scouting a model to base your team on you'd think you'd be looking at the Barcelonas, Real Madrids, and Bayern Munichs of this world - but one Football Association has opted to go in a completely different direction.
Just over a year ago the Mongolian Football Federation set out to find a potential partner club with the view to send their brightest and best young players overseas to develop, and it turns out that their "ideal destination" is a far cry from the tiki-taka, total football, or catenaccio styles that are renowned worldwide - instead they've decided that Markets Field in Limerick is the ideal place for a young Mongolian footballer to be playing.
This week Limerick FC and The Mongolian FF announced an official partnership that will see players travel in both directions with 16-year-old Belgutei Batjargul being confirmed as the first Mongolian player to be coming to Shannonside to train.
Speaking about the new deal Limerick FC Chairman Pat O’Sullivan said that the Mongolian Federation was interested in Limerick's culture and after a year of negotiating they were more than happy to organise a deal.
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.
Mongolian Football Federation Manager Enkhjin Batsumber also expressed his delight and confirmed that the Federation sees Limerick's approach to developing football as "ideal."
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.