| Bhaichung Bhutia and Wim Koevermans, in the city, on Tuesday. A Telegraph picture |
Calcutta: National coach Wim Koevermans harped on the need to educate coaches at the grassroots level to take Indian football forward.
“They are the ones who are in direct contact with the budding players. If they pass on a wrong technique to an under-12 player then that player will never grow. So we have to make sure that coaches at the grassroots level are educated enough,” Koevermans said after a discussion with the football coaches and owners of the I-League clubs of Calcutta and the NorthEast, at the Bengal Club, here, on Tuesday.
Trevor James Morgan (East Bengal), Karim Bencharifa (Mohun Bagan), Eelco Schattorie (United SC), Arthur Papas (Pailan Arrows) and Bhaichung Bhutia (United Sikkim Football Club) were some of the prominent names who were present when Koevermans and Robert Bann, Technical Director of AIFF, gave a marathon presentation.
Koevermans said youth development is the only way to improve Indian football.
“Clubs have to understand that without youth development they cannot move forward. Today’s discussion was really fruitful as we spoke about how important youth development is. I am sure the clubs will show more interest,” he said.
Koevermans felt it would be difficult to play in the same style across the country. “Ideally I would like to have the same style. But India is a huge country with diverse cultures. It’s not possible to have the same style of playing. But if a player is technically sound then he can always adapt to different styles. That’s why we want to educate under-age coaches first,” he said.
India failed to qualify for the main round of AFC Challenge Cup, but Koevermans did not sound worried. “At this point in time, India cannot think much about winning or losing. We have to have a long-term plan. That’s the only way to move forward,” Koevermans said.
Former India captain and United Sikkim Football Club owner Bhaichung Bhutia called for a cap on players’ ever-increasing salary. “His idea had quite a few takers in the meeting,” someone who was present in the meeting said.
Bhutia also asked the AIFF to weigh in the pros and cons before deciding on the contentious relegation issue.
Four Goan clubs — Dempo, Salgaocar SC, Churchill Brothers and Sporting Clube de Goa — along with Pune FC and United SC have mooted the idea of relegation freezing. “I am not sure whether this thing will help. Australia and US follow this set-up and they have got good results…
“But then, here, in India the scenario is different. If there is no relegation, how would clubs from the second division come up? Also, is there any guarantee that clubs will put money on youth development if they know they will not be relegated and, hence, they wouldn’t have splurge money on star players? The ball is in AIFF’s court. It’s their call.”
East Bengal, meanwhile, have mooted the idea of a CFL sans foreigners to boost local talent and also a cap on foreign players, while United SC wanted the local league to feature more under-23 players.