AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT
“Goa is a market Benfica is looking at because football is not restricted to only those who know how to play. Talent exists in people. It is a question of being attentive and creating an environment for the talent to grow. The kind of investment Benfica is thinking in India is long term,” Miguel Reis, Network manager of Benfica Soccer Schools told The Navhind Times on the eve of Vibrant Goa, the Trade expo to start at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium today.
“It takes years to form a player. Teaching has to be simple and kids have to amuse themselves. People need amusement and football is the biggest amusement all over the world. Football is pure fun,” insists Miguel who oversees 50 Benfica soccer schools in Portugal and 14 spread in Africa, North Amercia and Europe.
“We take all children, irrespective whether they are thin or fat, tall or short from the age of three to fourteen in our schools. Our schools teach the children how to play football. The students come in three times a week and each session lasts ninety minutes. The children learn fair play, respect for coaches and most importantly values for life,” says David Gomes, in-charge of innovation, development and project management of youth football of Benfica.
“We have our own methods of coaching at Benfica. Our methods and style are different to other countries in Europe. Our coaches must be on the field with the boys and we closely monitor the coaches of the countries we are involved with,” said Davide.
Benfica, Sporting and Porto are three clubs that dominate football in Portugal for years. Sporting has created players like Ronaldo and Moutinho and Benfica are producing their own brand in the like of Bernardo Silva who is turning out to be a sensation at Manchester City. “Bernardo is one, there are many waiting to make their presence,” asserts Miguel.
“When you make learning football accessible to all, you are increasing the base of the pyramid and then you improve the quality of the game and this is an investment in football India must begin to do. When we go to other countries, we share our model of growth with our investors who then have to adapt it. We don’t impose,” reasons Miguel whilst elaborating on the teams approach out of Portugal.
“If you give a kid the ball, he wants to dodge; he wants to play in any position; and he wants to score. It is from here that we start developing an individual. Kids want to have fun with football, they don’t want to be taught how to shoot, pass chest or head the ball. Our emphasis is on letting kids have fun learning and playing,” says Davide whilst stressing that Benfica appoints own coach in each country they have invested in. “Our coaches work along with the local coaches,” he added.
“We believe that Goa and Kolkata are good bases to start because these two states have a strong football culture. If most people see football, why is it that football is not taught to them? Why not have good licensed coaches. Investment in football pays with patience. It is happening in Benfica and can happen in other parts of the world,” believes Miguel.