ISL 2018-19: FC Pune City U-18 coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo wants to provide platform for young footballers from Jammu and Kashmir

Fresh after launching the State Football Academy in Kashmir, Wadoo is looking to provide youngsters from Kashmir the chance to establish themselves as professional footballers in his role as the head coach of the FC Pune CIty U-18 team.

Dilip Unnikrishnan October 17, 2018 22:33:04 IST
ISL 2018-19: FC Pune City U-18 coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo wants to provide platform for young footballers from Jammu and Kashmir

Over his two-decade-long career, Mehrajuddin Wadoo played in football clubs all across the country. From featuring in the Kolkata Derby for both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal to lifting the Indian Super League title with Chennaiyin FC, Wadoo has had an illustrious career. With his recent appointment as coach to FC Pune City's U-18 team, he hopes to see more footballers from Jammu and Kashmir playing in the national leagues.

ISL 201819 FC Pune City U18 coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo wants to provide platform for young footballers from Jammu and Kashmir

Wadoo, who hails from Srinagar, is also credited with popularising football in the Kashmir Valley. ISL

Fresh after launching the State Football Academy in Kashmir, the former India defender is looking to provide youngsters from the valley the chance to establish themselves as professional footballers in his role as the head coach of the U-18 team. "When I started playing football, there was not a single academy in Jammu and Kashmir. Local clubs were the only ones who were providing kids with the chance to play football," says Wadoo to Firstpost.

"The only academy I knew of was the Tata Football Academy but there was no way I could join them. I just played and trained at local clubs like any Kashmiri kid. As FC Pune's coach, I will obviously be looking to scout young players from Kashmir for the club," he says.

The Kashmir native always wanted to get into coaching after his playing career was over and actively worked to acquire his coaching badges. Currently working on getting his AFC 'A' coaching licence, Wadoo says that returning to Pune in a coaching capacity was something both he and the club had planned to do. The club had been in touch with Wadoo as he pursued his coaching badges and were enthusiastic about having him back on board.

Wadoo hopes that the wards from his first coaching assignment will have a positive response to his coaching, with the immediate goal being to ensure that some players progress to the first team next season. The calibre of the players and the progressive set up of the academy makes Wadoo confident of achieving his aim.

The setting up of football academies and the launch of youth and baby leagues have sprung from the increased interest in football in India. Apart from local football academies, a majority of ISL and I-League clubs have provided more openings for youngsters by entering their academy sides in the Youth League. Wadoo bats for continued support of youth programmes as he believes that the increasing focus on developing players has positively impacted the two leagues. According to him, "The league has moved on from being dependent on foreigners to being dependent on Indian players."

During his time establishing the state academy in Kashmir, Wadoo had a front seat to the rise of Real Kashmir. By winning the second division of the I-League, the Srinagar-based team have become the first football club from the valley to play in India's top-tier league. Real Kashmir's journey has galvanised the sport in the northern state and Wadoo trusts that their story will inspire the next generation of Kashmiri youth to get involved in the sport.

"I played in clubs across the country but I never played in Jammu and Kashmir because there was no club which could play in the I-league. I want Real Kashmir to grow because the Kashmiri people will finally have a club to root for," says Wadoo.

So will we see Wadoo shouting instructions from the sideline as Real Kashmir manager?

"Right now I am only focused on my U-18 team at Pune, but if the opportunity arises in the future, I would love to go for it."

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

TV rights trial of PSG chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi and ex-FIFA official Jerome Valcke begins in Switzerland
Sports

TV rights trial of PSG chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi and ex-FIFA official Jerome Valcke begins in Switzerland

Al-Khelaifi, who is also chairman of Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Media, is charged with inciting Valcke to commit "aggravated criminal mismanagement."

LaLiga: Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone tests positive for coronavirus, goes into self-isolation
Sports

LaLiga: Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone tests positive for coronavirus, goes into self-isolation

Diego Simeone and the rest of the team were tested on Friday. Atletico Madrid did not say if anyone else was infected.

Lionel Messi's decision to stay at Barcelona means little for president Josep Bartomeu considering the turmoil at club
Sports

Lionel Messi's decision to stay at Barcelona means little for president Josep Bartomeu considering the turmoil at club

A vote of no confidence has been presented against president Josep Bartomeu by Barcelona's members, meaning he may not last that long. His victory over Lionel Messi may prove a hollow one.