'Indian football going in the right direction'

'Indian football going in the right direction'

Football in India has been growing constantly over the last decade with a clutch of youngsters shining on the world stage and a steady rise in the rankings, but for a more sustained growth development of coaches is crucial.

In 2007, British Council and the Premier League collaborated to start a programme -- Premier Skills -- that develops coaches and referees across the globe.

Extensively-travelled head coach Paul Hughes shed light on the finer details of the course and what they hoped to achieve from the course.

“The programme is for coaches as well as referees with the latter being handled by former Premier League officials.

“What we are ideally looking to do is upgrade coaches and further the game in the country. We also work closely with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in this regard and participants who attend the course get a D license (the basic course),” Hughes told DH on the sidelines of a Premier Skills workshop at the Gowthampura ground.

With a team of coaches from Manchester City, West Ham and Arsenal, Hughes is heading a seven-day workshop at SAI where aspiring coaches are subjected to a host of exercises. The Englishman, who has overseen many such training sessions opined that he was impressed with what he saw.

“Their attitude to learning has been fantastic and in our recent workshop, we’ve only been working with them for two days. They are very meticulous in planning and the way they prepare and are attentive to finer details, which will enhance their learning process.”

“From the time Premier Skills started here, we have upscaled over a 1000 coaches to cascade their knowledge to something like 17,000 youngsters and it is that effect that will be beneficial. It is more or less the same in Britain,” he revealed about the results they have had over the last decade.

With India participating in their first ever FIFA event at the ongoing Under-17 World Cup, Hughes believes that there is only one direction Indian football can take from here, and that is forward.

“It is a fantastic experience for the U-17s to be part of an event as large as the World Cup. It is really a big step for football in this country and hopefully that group can carry on progress to greater heights.”

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