Even if they only had to scout for talent,looking over fifteen six-a-side games still proved to be a tough task for the six AIFF accredited coaches at the Ambedkar Stadium on Monday. The coaches,who are part of a program that seeks to identify six talented youngsters to send to the Manchester United Soccer School,appeared exhausted,as they frequently sipped water and hunted for bits of shade on the side of the pitch.
Bhupender Singh Rawat,one of the coaches present said that it would have been nice to have a few more coaches to help do a better job of spotting talent from among the 3500 participants. We six guys are stretched,if we had a few more coaches then we could have guided the players better and offered them some more pointers. India has so many talented players but not enough coaches, said Rawat.
But while the shortage of coaches was felt,an equally important issue raised was of the overall standard of the coaches who were present as well. It was another coach at the venue AIFF C License (The second lowest coaching license provided by the AIFF) holder Sanjay Joshi,who voiced that concern. He believed that while the focus of the AIFF and the district football associations was on producing quality players,developing good-quality coaches was proving to be a challenge. AIFF conducts just a 15 day coaching license clinic,after that the coaches are on their own,they get no further training or refresher courses, said Joshi who has studied at the National Institute of Sports and gives football lessons to children in the Yamuna Development Area.
Joshi said that while talented players would continue to play well,a well-qualified coach could help them improve their mental make-up and also work exclusively on their weaknesses. Coaches who are given refresher courses and updates can spot certain small weaknesses in a player which might not be seen by a lesser coach. Small technical adjustments can go a long way in making a good player better, said Joshi.
Joshis claims were backed by Rawat who adds that coaches who have successfully completed AIFF coaching modules are not assured of a team to coach. A coach needs to have a team to constantly improve himself and make a mark,without a team the coach just ends up doing nothing with his skills, said Rawat. He also said that since there is no supervision of coaches by the AIFF it is difficult to accurately tell whether the coach is really improving his skills and imparting the correct training to his wards.
Joshi said that if India seriously wanted to make a mark in international football then it was imperative for the AIFF to put in place a more structured and supervised program for coaches. Till the age of 10,European children and Indian children are the same,they have the same skills but the Europeans have a more technical way of coaching young children,the lack of technically astute coaches is really hurting Indian football, said Joshi.
Despite the lack of sufficient number of coaches,the coaches said that the kind of response and talent they had seen was phenomenal. We knew football was popular but we are definitely blown away by the response this particular competition has generated. Kids as young as 12 and 13 are deftly dodging defenders,effortlessly running with the ball and most of them have got their positioning right,this is a hugely positive step as they are so young, said Rana. Despite all the shortcomings from the coaches,he admitted that it would be a very challenging task to select six of the best players.
However,all the three coaches were unanimous in agreeing that a training stint with Manchester United,at their famous football school is a gilt edged opportunity for the selected children to learn from the best in the business. The children will go into a totally football-centric environment and that can only be beneficial for them, said Rawat.