The Association of Indian Football Coaches (AIFC), a body for education, training, development and welfare of Indian coaches at different levels in the nation's football hierarchy was launched at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai on Wednesday in presence of senior AIFF officials and some top Indian coaches.
Thangboi Singto, assistant coach and technical director of Kerala Blasters, Dinesh Nair, head of youth and grassroots development and Derrick Pereira of FC Goa, who are a part of an esteemed panel of directors of the organisation, graced the event, while other directors, including Arjuna awardee IM Vijayan and Mohun Bagan head coach Sanjoy Sen showcased their delight at the formation of the body through video messages.
The AIFC is recognised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and with the support of the apex football body in the country, the organisation will try to provide the coaching talent in the country the platform to sharpen their skills. The coaches' association will assist the AIFF in conducting AFC licence courses across the country with the objective of increasing the number of coaches with formal coaching badges.
"It's important for everyone to work together as we want to develop many more coaches. In India football is growing rapidly and even school teams want to appoint a licensed coach. Our aim was to develop 6,500 coaches from the 2014 level of 1,200. Now in the next five years we want to make it 65,000 coaches," AIFFs COO Kishor Taid asserted.
The body also plans to expose the nation's coaches to advanced techniques through regular seminars, workshops and courses involving members of foreign coaching associations to keep the local coaches updated with the ever-evolving landscape of modern-day football.
Shedding light on the structure of the association, Nair revealed plans to appoint coach development officers (CDO) in every state who will be assisted further by a team of officers in each district. The district officer will be responsible for creating a network of coaches in his area of control that will be connected with the national body. "India is huge, so setting up the network will take time. We are in process but there are 15 states where we feel we can implement our plans in the near future. We have already identified and had a word with people who could function as the CDOs in these particular regions," Nair revealed.
A women's coaches' division in each state that will look after the development of the sport among women is also in the pipeline.
With the cream of the Indian coaches being a part of the think tank, the AIFC hopes to address key concerns of coaches at different levels in the football hierarchy.
"The job of a coach especially at the top level is quite precarious. The danger of a sacking always looms over a coach's head. So with the association in place, I think the coaches could be better trained to handle the pressure and the problems that come with the loss of their job. There are many factors where a coach needs support and the presence of a body that looks after the anxieties of a coach is a very positive development," Sen said in his video statement.
Pereira who was a national team player in his days before making his name as a coach, stressed the need for access to coaching licence courses. Despite representing India at the Asian Games, the former Salgaocar coach felt he was truly educated about the technical aspects of the sport after he pursued the licences.
"I wish there was a a coaches' association developing coaches during my time. I would have been a much better player. I was never trained (by a licensed coach). I grew up playing on the street. Even after playing so many games at the top level and representing the national team, I learnt how to make the perfect first touch when I was doing my AFC C licence. So for coaches, acquiring the licences is a must and we are going to try to promote that so that the level of football education in the country becomes better," Pereira stated.
The AIFC is the first-of-its-kind association at the national level. However, similar bodies have come and gone in states like Goa and Kolkata in the past. But with AIFF's backing, the AIFC has a vital support system to fight the challenges such organisations face.
With the aspirational value of football continuing to grow in India, a body that aims to nurture and develop coaches might be an important player in Indian football's long path to achieve relevance on the global map of the sport.
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Updated Date: Dec 27, 2017 21:29:04 IST