Hero Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters FC have made great strides since bringing in Karolis Skinkys on board as their new sporting director in 2020. The club may have not won any silverware since his appointment, but the building blocks of progress have been visible.

The club have made it to the Hero ISL playoffs for the previous two seasons under head coach Ivan Vukomanovic for the first time in their history. In terms of recruitment, the Blasters are not only signing and grooming young Indian talents, but also bringing in quality foreign players.

Midfielder Adrian Luna is one such example. The Uruguayan has been one of the first names on the team sheet for the Blasters and has contributed massively to their success, registering 10 goals and 13 assists across two seasons. Discussing the club’s strategy of recruiting foreign players, Skinkys stated that the club have been trying to add foreign players who still have plenty to offer in terms of quality and energy.

“Every year, our aim is to reduce the average age of foreign players. It’s important to have players who are hungrier, appreciate the opportunity, and have more energy. It’s not just about the age; you cannot compromise on the quality. You can sometimes sign all young players and then easily get disappointed (with their performances),” he said in an interview with The Times of India.

“The main thing is quality. It’s not easy, it takes time (to sign players). You have to find the right profiles. Once you find, there are several factors like player situation, club situation, family opinion,” Skinkys further explained.

The Blasters are not only trying to sign experienced foreign players, but are also scouting players from abroad, who they believe could make it big in the future. Forward Justine Emmanuel, from Nigeria, has been training with the Kerala Blasters FC first team ahead of the season. 

As Emmanuel continues to train with the first team, it provides him an opportunity to compete for a place in the senior team besides learning from experienced players in the squad.

“As a club and league, if we want to be respected outside India, we have to find solutions on how to get quality (players) interesting to other countries as well,” Skinskys stated.

“One way is to scout young players with potential to play at a much-higher level, so Justine is beginning of that (journey). We will do this in Africa, South America and any country or market where we can find quality, where the club structure is not so organised,” he said.

Kerala Blasters FC will be back in action next month as they prepare for the Durand Cup. The Blasters have been paired in Group C alongside Bengaluru FC, Gokulam Kerala FC and Indian Air Force.