India needs to build more pitches and educate coaches, says coach Andreas Seipel
The elite UEFA-A coach is in India to conduct workshops in Kolkata and Kochi.
Germany Football Academy, a Kolkata-based football coaching centre, recently invited UEFA-A licence-holding coach Andreas Seipel to India for a 10-day visit to the country. He is here to conduct workshops for the academy in an attempt to train coaches and their budding footballers. The workshops are taking place in two cities, Kolkata and Kochi. While the Kolkata episode of the workshop took place on the 27th and 28th of January, the Kochi episode is slated to take place between the 2nd and 4th of February.
During his stay in Kolkata, Khel Now got an opportunity to have an exclusive chat with the elite coach in which he expressed his thought about the game in India and how India can improve. Edited excerpts from the interaction are as follows.
On coming to India and the reception received
Andreas expressed his thought on being in India and how the country has been treating him. He seemed quite happy with the reception. He said, “Everyone is very friendly to me. They want to help me to know things about Indian culture. I try to give something back by sharing my experience of coaching to educate the coaches and train with the kids. It is my part of being here.”
On the origin of Soccer City and its goals
Soccer City is a residential football training academy based out of Germany which has produced players who have gone on to represent clubs like RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid at various levels. Andreas talked about how he came up with the idea of establishing such an entity.
“We started in 1994 only through a handful of soccer camps. It was for my brother. I wanted him to have sporting summer holidays, and that is how we began. It began to grow as more and more kids started joining our academy. In 2006, we founded a boarding school. We started with four players and today we have 30 players living in our academy and 100 players associated with our academy.”
The coach also talked about the long-term goals of Soccer City. He talked that while producing quality players is their primary target, going to different countries and educating coaches is also one of their goals. He said, “Our goal is to develop kids for around three years. Then we want to send them to a big club. In this way, they have the possibility to become a professional player. Many kids from all over the world are coming to my academy. The task is to go to different countries and educate coaches and tell them things about soccer city such that children from all over the world can visit us.”
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On the partnership with German Football Academy
German Football Academy is the exclusive partner for Soccer City for the Indian market. Andreas talked about the inception of the partnership. He said, “Last year, I met Krish (German Football Academy). We came together and talked about what we are doing. Krish said that it will be a good idea for me to come to India and explained what we can do together.”
The German then went on to talk about the short-term and long-term goals of their collaboration. He stated, “The goal of this partnership is that I will be coming here and get an overview of the level of Indian football right now and what is possible to help the development of Indian football. At first, I think Indian football needs more pitches (playgrounds) where the kids can play football.”
“Second thing, India needs to educate the coaches. If there are better coaches, they can develop the kids as well as possible. It will take the level higher. One part of the partnership is to educate the coaches. Another step can be to send Indian kids to a camp in Soccer City. The third step could be that Indian kids come to Germany for around two years to learn about German football culture and language. Then they can come back and show their level of football skills in India and give something back.”
On the football Culture in Germany
Andreas talked in detail about German football culture and how their culture is driving their country to play good football. He said, “In Germany, every kid is playing football. My son and his friends started playing football when they were five years old. Football is very popular in Germany and all the kids try to become professional players. So they start training when they are very young, sometimes from kindergarten. It is well organised, they have training sessions every week and tournaments every weekend. Germans start playing in the league system when they are seven. It is very structured. Playing in this league system helps players grow year-by-year.”
The elite coach added, “In Germany, there are many players playing football. So, we have many kids on the top who can play football as well as possible. But, if there were not so many kids playing football, it would not have been possible to have many players on the top. First, we need to have many players at the base to have good players on the top. Apart from top academies, we have a lot of academies at the base. Every village has an academy where youngsters can train.”
On the talent of India
Andreas expressed his evaluation of the players and coaches with whom he worked during the days of the workshop. He praised them for being open-minded and hungry for improvement but flayed the lack of quality of many. He said, “I think the coaches are very open-minded. They want to learn everything about football. But I think they have to learn many things about football. They have to improve and learn at which age one needs to do what kinds of things. I saw yesterday that they talked too long with the kids. I told them that they can talk for a maximum of one minute and then start the exercise.”
He said the following about the kids, “The kids are very open-minded. They want to become better and better. The levels are different. For some kids, the level is okay, while for others, they are only starters. They have to learn many things. But all the kids want to become better and better.”
On the way forward for India
The UEFA-A coach talked about how India needs to work to develop the country’s football. He emphasised building local infrastructure and educating local coaches. He said, “The first step is to talk with the government to build more pitches. At the same time, start to educate the coaches. I think it is important for Indian coaches to become better and better. Bringing in foreign coaches is not a good idea because they do not understand Indian culture. If Indian football wants to grow in the right way, it has to develop its own football culture. This is only possible with well-educated Indian coaches.”
Andreas asserted that Indian kids need to start training right from childhood. He said, “India needs to start training the kids early, maybe from the kindergartens. When they are six/seven years old, they have to start training in many sessions a week. For that, you need pitches and coaches.”
Lastly, Andreas talked about how India and Germany can work together to improve Indian coaches. He stated, “I think it is necessary for Indian coaches to come to Germany for one/two years to see what we are doing in Germany. How is the system, comprising multiple league levels, working? It is important to note how we are working with our kids. Then the coaches can come back and transport things that are possible in the Indian culture. But it needs to be a long-term program. They need to visit Germany more than one time. Maybe Indian coaches need to come to Germany once or twice a year or German coaches will have to come to India.”
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