Entering into Partnership with FC Bayern Munich, Princeton FC Enhancing Experience for its Players
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT: Princeton FC Executive Director Stoyan Pumpalov, left, FC Bayern Munich’s North America Development Manager Robert Peltram, center, and Princeton FC Director of Coaching Yordan Hristov are all smiles as they attended the 2023 United Soccer Coaches Annual Convention earlier this year in Philadelphia. Princeton FC and German soccer powerhouse FC Bayern Munich recently reached an agreement for an official collaboration and partnership effective from January 1, 2023. (Photo provided by Yordan Hristov)
By Bill Alden
Over the years, Yordan Hristov has developed a deep affinity for the German soccer powerhouse FC Bayern Munich.
“My wife’s parents live in Bavaria near Munich and we are familiar with the surroundings and the area,” said Hristov, the director of coaching for the Princeton FC soccer organization. “Every time we go there, we are in love with the place. We have been following FC Bayern for years. We always dreamed of establishing a professional relationship and connect our players with Bayern Munich.”
The founder of Princeton FC and its executive director, Stoyan Pumpalov, has long had aspirations of linking up with an international soccer power.
“Since I built the club, I always wanted to get connected with a big team in Europe,” said Pumpalov. “We tried with some British clubs. We tried with PSG (Paris Saint-Germain Football Club) and we were very close.”
The dreams of both men have come true as Princeton FC and FC Bayern Munich recently reached an agreement for an official collaboration and partnership effective from January 1, 2023.
The agreement provides the Princeton FC players exclusive exposure to FC Bayern Munich’s player development model and curriculums, FC Bayern summer camps in Princeton, annual visits to Munich and being trained by FC Bayern coaches, and attending a first-team game, among other things.
In addition, the Princeton FC coaches will gain access to FC Bayern’s existing and developing player development plans and curriculums, participate in monthly conference calls with FC Bayern Academy coaching staff, visit Munich as guests of the Academy, see their methodology in action, and get certified by FC Bayern.
The partnership is the product of a process that actually started in 2019. The clubs connected via Zoom during the pandemic to discuss the possibility of a collaboration. Things were put on hold due to issues related to the pandemic and changes in Bayern Munich’s management team.
But last fall, talks resumed and the clubs were able to close a deal.
“We were patient with the whole process,” said Hristov. “Everything came to fruition. We resumed the meetings with a little bit more regularity and a little bit more certainty about what we would like to see happen and what they are looking for.”
Seeing things come to fruition meant a lot to Hristov.
“We were thrilled about how we were able to really fulfill our mission to provide the best possible youth soccer experience for our players,” asserted Hristov. “We all believe it can’t get any better than that. This is exactly what we are trying to provide our players.”
For its part, the German club is looking forward to working with the U.S. club.
“FC Bayern is excited to welcome Princeton FC as an official Partner club here in the U.S.,” said FC Bayern Munich’s North America Development Manager Robert Peltram in a release announcing the partnership. “We are convinced that our collaboration will have a positive impact on the athletes and the sport in the community.”
Pumpalov sees plenty of positives in the partnership. “This is very exciting for everybody, the players and coaches,” said Pumpalov, noting that Princeton FC is the only exclusive partner with Bayern Munich in the northeast. “I hope everybody will take full advantage of the opportunity. Working with FC Bayern Munich will tremendously benefit our club. We will have the opportunity to continuously develop our players and coaches through new and innovative soccer methodologies.”
In addition, local players will have the opportunity to impress Bayern Munich, which was founded in 1900 and is the most successful club in German football history, having won a record 32 national titles, including 10 consecutively since 2013, and 20 national cups, along with six UEFA Champions League titles.
“Another exciting thing is that we are starting a tournament through Bayern Munich tournament tours,” added Pumpalov, noting that the event is slated for late June. “The scouts from Bayern Munich will be here to observe the games and eventually pick out players that they like and invite them to their academy.”
Looking ahead to working with Bayern Munich, Pumpalov acknowledges that there will be a learning curve.
“I am curious as to exactly what kind of new things we are going to learn,” says Pumpalov. “At the same time, we are not about to go copy and paste. We have to see if the things that they are doing are going to work for us. If there is something that you see and you like, it has to work for our players as well because their players might be more trained than ours. All of those type of things we have to figure out.”
In the view of Pumpalov, applying things learned from the German club to Princeton FC’s younger players is a key to the arrangement.
“If we start going what they are doing at the younger age groups, then everything will be much easier,” said Pumpalov, who founded Princeton FC in 2007 and has helped guide the club to seven State, three Regional, and two National titles. “This is a most exciting part.”
Hristov is excited about the development piece across the board.
“It involves every age group, every level, boys and girls; it is for everybody,” said Hristov, noting that Bayern Munich has developed a strong girls’ academy and women’s team to go along with its storied boys’ and men’s programs.
“That is what we asked for, that is what we wanted. We made it clear from the beginning that we are an all inclusive club. We are based here in Princeton and we are focused on our community. We would like to present and provide our community with the best possible experience that they could have for all of our players, regardless of skill level and gender. One of the things that really fortified this relationship is that they are also willing to do something like that.”
For Hristov, the relationship with Bayern Munich should prove to be inspiring on many levels.
“I would have to say that everybody who is in love with the game dreams that they will be able to be part of something big,” said Hristov.
“FC Bayern Munch is a German record holder, it is one of the biggest clubs in the world. It is like a dream come true for our staff to be able learn from FC Bayern Munich academy staff and for players to be able to see and interact with the coaches who will be coming here in Princeton. Our players will be able to go there each year to interact and be coached by their staff and go to games. It is a spectrum of events, tailored just for our players.”