Borussia Dortmund Hosts Youth Academy in Chicagoland


BVB looking to bulid on their visit to Chicago last July. 

The trend for some of the top clubs in Europe is to expand their brand around the world. Especially in the United States, where clubs with the status of Manchester United and Bayern Munich have set up offices in New York or even Eintracht Frankfurt who recently opened up a youth academy in Michigan last Summer.

Borussia Dortmund are looking to tap into that market themselves by hosting a special youth academy session with kids from the Kuba Elite Soccer Academy in Mount Prospect, Illinois, and with student from the German American School on the city’s North Side. The groundwork was laid after their visit to Chicago in July for a friendly against Manchester City as well as someone in the area who has familial ties with a former player. 

Patrick Owomoyela (third from right) with coaches from Dortmund and the Kuba Elite Soccer Academy (Photo by Dan Gaichas).

I spoke with BVB legend Patrick Owomoyela as well as Kuba Soccer Academy Director of Coaching Jakub “Kuba” Lisek about BVB’s visit on Saturday afternoon and what it means to have a club like Dortmund here in Chicago. 

“Since we came here in July, we thought about expanding our bonds with the fans in the States, especially with the Christian Pulisic factor,” said Owomoyela. “Plus, a family member of a former player runs the academy [in Mount Prospect].” 

That former player is Jakub Blaszczykowski who played at Dortmund for nine seasons. His cousin is Jakub “Kuba” Lisek who is Director of Coaching at the Kuba Elite Soccer Academy—himself a former player for Fortuna Dusseldorf.

“I was invited by [BVB] last year when they were here for the friendly against Manchester City,” said Lisek. “I met the President and the Vice President [of BVB]a few years ago because of my cousin who used to play for Dortmund. That’s how I’ve met people at Dortmund and we started building our relationship. 

“I spoke with [Coach and Manager International Football Activities for BVB Evonik Football Academy Markus Padzior] and we put this all together within four weeks.”

Dortmund is making good use of bonds such as the one with Lisek and with New York-based marketing group Lagardère Sports and Entertainment to build upon their visit to Chicago and to expand their brand in the United States. 

“Chicago is a huge city. We have this connection with Kuba’s academy and we use this connection to come to Chicago and pick up where we started in July and to take it to the next level and hold the bonding,” said Owomoyela. “Chicago is a great place with German population and German brands based close to the city.”

It is not just the German population in Chicago and nearby that are attracted to the Black and Yellow according to Lisek. 

“For me, if I was one of the BVB people who make decisions, this would definitely a market they should look into, especially in Chicago with an Eastern European background (such as) Polish, Russiana, as Czechs. BVB is very popular within those communities. I think it’s very important for them to sell this brand and be attractive because of the trio—Blaszczykowski, [Lukasz] Piszczek, and [Robert] Lewandowski. A lot of the Polish community can relate to them. It kind of feels like a Polish club in a way.”

Given time, Owomoyela think that BVB will have a physical presence in the United States either in the form of an office and/or an academy.

“With growing attention, there will be a point when you have to think about your own office,” said Owomoyela. “There are thoughts about it. In the future, I’m sure there will be an office. Right now, we’re using our partnerships. There are talks bringing in own academy, though the timeline and place are unknown at this point.”

Borussia Dortmund is sensing an opportunity like many clubs in Europe have recently done to expand their brand within the United States and they are certainly building upon their visit last July in Chicago with the connections they have on the ground now. 


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