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Carlos: Use the ball as a pillow

Calcutta: While the country’s football fraternity is busy weaving dreams around the 2017 U-17 World Cup which will be staged in India, Carlos Alberto Torres, who captained Brazil to World Cup triumph in 1970, has prescribed the method to dream better and, more importantly, how to translate that dream to reality.

“Go to sleep with the ball… Take the ball to the bed and use it as a pillow. That is very important to realise your dreams. You have to keep repeating: ‘I want to be a football player’… Only then can you be a player,” is Carlos’s advice to the youngsters.

As part of the Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour, Coca-Cola announced that it would be arranging a two-week training programme for a bunch of Indian youngsters. It was on this occasion that Carlos gave his invaluable advice to the aspiring footballers.

While Abhijit Sarkar and Jitendra Singh, both from Bengal, have been selected for the training camp, there was no confirmation on the other ‘trainees’ till late on Monday. Though the names of Amit Tudu, Subrata Das and Prasenjit Chakraborty were announced during the media conference on Monday morning, a media release from the organisers later in the day created confusion as it named four other boys — Ninthoinganba and Dheeraj Singh (Manipur), Ajay Alex (Karnataka) and Abuthaheer (Kerala).

Abhijit, whose father is a van driver, wishes to use the opportunity to fulfil his dream. “It’s a great chance... I want to make full use of it,” he said.

Coming back to Carlos, the 69-year-old used references from his own life, and from Lionel Messi’s and Neymar’s as well, to drill in the benefits of practice, hard work and dedication.

“My parents didn’t want me to play football… But I convinced them, worked hard and within two years I was there in the Brazil team. Then take Messi… He was 12-13 when he left Argentina (to go to Spain)… How many people knew him then? I have known Neymar since he was 10-11… His father is my friend. When he was taken to Santos to practice, nobody knew him. But they practised, practised and practised… Now see where they are,” he explained.

Terming the ‘Brazil model’ as the ideal example for India to follow, Carlos suggested that an exchange programme would be beneficial. “It’s good that these kids will go to Brazil… I will ensure that they get to see some big players and big matches, and practice with Brazilian players… But I think if there is an exchange programme where Brazilian coaches and players can also come to India, it will aid in the development of the game in this country,” he said.

The AIFF, meanwhile, is planning to use its domestic U-15 tournament as the platform to identify talent for the 2017 U-17 Cup. “We will use the Coca Cola Cup (U-15) as a platform for identifying talents for the 2017 Cup… And not just the World Cup, we should also focus on the various AFC age-group tournaments,” general secretary Kushal Das said.

The AIFF, however, is yet to come up with a concrete plan. “We haven’t finalised what changes would be made to the tournament to make it more efficient. But the focus will certainly be on youth development,” Das added.