'Players without clubs a worry'

'Players without clubs a worry'

Koevermans hopes teams will step in

Keeping a close watch on the ongoing under-22 camp here at the Bangalore Football Stadium, national football coach Wim Koevermans expressed the hope that leading clubs would recruit players left in the lurch after the development side Pailan Arrows were disbanded last year.

Formed in 2010 to provide upcoming players a chance to rub shoulders against the best in the country, the national development side was disbanded last August by AIFF after sponsor Pailan Group chose not pledge any future financial commitment. That left most of the players without a club in the current season, robbing them of weekly matchplay at a crucial juncture in their careers.

“It’s good to see the boys at full stretch,” Koevermans told reporters after an intense training session. “After 10 days we know the players we’re probably going to choose. Then we have to monitor them still during their matches. For us it’s valuable to see the boys train so hard.

“But there’s also a problem again as a lot of the boys are without a club. Some of them were in the Pailan Arrows team that doesn’t exist anymore. Then we have some IMG Reliance boys who are without a club too. That’s a major problem. I feel sorry for the boys because these are young talents that are without a club at the moment,” added the Dutchman.

Koevermans appeared to have no solution for the current predicament. “That’s (solution) out of my control. Hopefully the clubs will react and pick up the talents of India. We cannot leave the boys without clubs. That’s not their problem. It has been created because Pailan Arrows had to quit and the IMG league is only at the end of the year. Hopefully this problem will be solved because we leave a lot of players without an opportunity to play games in this important age-group.”

Koevermans felt he had enough time on his hands to prepare a decent squad for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. “Yes, I think we have decent time to build a competitive team. We are still constructing the programme for the boys and have planned some exposure trips abroad to help them gain experience in playing big teams. At the World Cup, we will have some of the biggest young stars visiting India. And if we want India to do well, we need to give them the facilities which is available only abroad. We also need to get used to different styles and different conditions.”

The camp will wind up on February 5 after which AIFF will prune down the number to around 35. The shortlisted players will then regroup for the second camp in June where the list will be further toned down and taken for exposure trips abroad.

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