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Bringing glory to Indian football

After serving AIFF (All India Football Federation) in various capacities, including serving as interim technical director, Savio Medeira, now, head of coaching is looking forward to hasten and improvise the coaching standard of football in the country. In between his hectic travel schedule he makes time to talk football to NT NETWORK

Danuska Da Gama | NT NETWORK

As a player, Savio Medeira spent his entire career from 1983 to 2000 with Salgaoncar SC and began coaching there itself till 2008. That was the stepping stone where he joined hands with the national side to become assistant to the then Bob Houghton. Since then he has worked with AIFF (All India Football Federation) in various capacities, including head coach of the national team, and technical director until recently.

Excerpts from an interview.

Q. From your playing days in 1983, becoming a coach in 2001 to becoming an interim technical director and now head of coaching, you’ve seen the sport go through several phases.

Over the years, the game is getting more structured and more professionalism has come into the game. There are more youth tournaments which were lacking during my playing days and now football can be chosen as a serious career. Although times have changed and technology is playing a big part in today’s world, this has also led to distraction of today’s youth from physical sport. Football nowadays is more commercialised as compared to my playing days – where passion and love for the game of football was everything – this is something which you feel is simply missing today.

Being an interim technical director did give me another perspective about the overall development of the game, as it involves the future of the entire country. Coach education is very close to my heart as it involves more focus on developing coaches who in turn are responsible for developing better players.

Q. Of late, our teams have been faring pretty well internationally. What has worked for our side?

Due credit should be given to AIFF and the national team department for meeting the requirements of the other national teams. Our coaches, especially at the youth level, have developed themselves by working on the latest trends and methods. Keeping our youth teams together for a longer period of time and giving them adequate exposure, taking care of their entire holistic needs, has also helped them to evolve themselves as better players and play confidently as a team.

The senior team too had been doing pretty well which was well supported by AIFF. Getting in sports science for the team not only helped to raise the bar of the overall team performance but it also helped individually for the players to understand their intricacies of keeping themselves fitter to continue longer in the game.

Q. There has always been unfinished work, right? So what’s the focus area now?

For me, the main focus is coach education to improve and develop the standard of coaches at all levels.  Focus will also be on continuous professional development by mentoring and guiding coaches.

Having more competitions at a younger age is a must. Starting of baby leagues is also a good initiative however, we have to ensure that each boy and girl gets at least 35 to 40 matches in a year which will build more players with good decision-making abilities and encourage competitiveness.

Q. Football is a religion in Goa, but sadly not many make it to the national or international level. What is your take on the way football is conducted in the state?

The competition level in Goa has gone down. The passion for the game has decreased over the years and sadly you don’t see any talented player playing well consistently.

A structured calendar at the beginning of the season, more school and college tournaments, adequate parental support for football are some points that we can improve on, to improvise the stature of football in our state.

Q. In Goa, besides GFA there is GFDC, but what do you think is missing and needs to be looked at from a serious point of view?

Besides these two bodies, we also have SAG (Sports Authority of Goa) and DYSA (Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs) in Goa. If all the four bodies work together to come up with a structured plan and have proper qualified coaches, it will help immensely to take football to the glory days of before.

Q. The performance, good or bad ultimately reflects on coaches. Comment.

For me, results are secondary. Performance of the team and development of players is very important especially at youth level.

From a layman’s point of view, it is correct that the performance of the team reflects on the coaches.  However, there are many instances when a coach is lucky to have a bunch of quality players and get success. On the other hand, a coach who is well planned and organised but has mediocre quality players will not get the desired results. 

Q. As head of coaching what is your mission?

My mission is to develop the quality and standard of coaches such as revalidation of licences and Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Q. Training national campers is one aspect, but the future of the sport lies in states, where their basic coach is all that they depend on. What is AIFF planning to do in this regards to nurture talent at the grassroots level?

AIFF has its own grassroots programme to develop grassroots leaders in each state so that the base of the game broadens. But ultimately, it is the state that will have to work and develop the game. AIFF can only oversee and help the states. AIFF has employed development officers in ten states to help build relations between AIFF and the state and at the same time help the state to develop the game in all aspects.

Q. Most coaches have government jobs, especially in Goa and thus unlike what it’s supposed to be, they aren’t extremely proactive. What can be done here?

Accountability is missing. Providing coaches with a planned schedule, supervision of the coaches during their practice sessions, providing exposure to them and sending them for refresher courses will also help them to stay proactive.

Q. Can you share with us a few innovations in the game that coaches should focus on imparting to their trainees?

Coaches should be able to develop players tactically, technically, physically and mentally.

Coaches should also work on the latest trends in the game and be aware of how the game is evolving.

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