The Head of Coach Education at AIFF stressed upon the importance of providing opportunities to domestic coaches.

Honing the upcoming tacticians of the country is an essential part of driving the progress of football in India. All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Head of Coach Education Savio Medeira joined Nilanjan Datta on an Instagram live session to ponder upon this issue. “In the past, most of the coaches did their coaching activities through experience of their playing career. Since football has evolved as a big industry, coach education has been evolving through the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Any country which has developed (in football), the strongest pillar will be the coach education,” Medeira spoke about the importance of training professional coaches.  

The Salgaocar FC veteran also enlightened the audience on the structure that exists currently to produce upcoming coaches in India. According to him, a convention from the AFC has aided in transforming the outlook towards this topic. “I am proud of say on this platform today that we are an AFC Coaching Convention approval member,” he started off. “We start off with an ‘E’ certificate that is for a four-day course. The only criterion is 18 years and above individuals can join it. So, I would prefer most of the physical education teachers, anyone with interest in the game to come and join the ‘E’ certificate course. No assessment is done, though a certificate is given at the end of the course.”

Continuing to shed light on the process, he remarked, “After three months, you can apply for the ‘D’ certificate course. Pre-COVID, we were having about 100 ‘D’ certificate courses in a year. So, I thought to have a pre-requisite for ‘D’ certificate that they need to have an ‘E’ certificate that gives you an idea of how to deal with the kids and then come to ‘D.’ But right now, we at AIFF do not have enough number of coach educators to run ‘E’ certificate courses parallel to the number of ‘D’ certificate courses that we have.”

“So after three months, they go for ‘D’. After six months of ‘D’ certificate, you go for ‘C’. After ‘C’, there is a two-year timeline that you have to work on all the things you have learnt, then a ‘B-diploma.’ After that, another two years and an ‘A-Diploma’ and after another two years, you have a ‘Pro-Diploma’ course,” the seasoned coach detailed about the whole approach towards coach education in the country.

Savio Medeira asserted that the federation now breaks down these modules into different parts instead of imparting the knowledge altogether at one stretch. They assign the attendees different activities in between of these sections, making the comprehensive process more engrossing and interesting. He also stated that the last ‘Pro-Diploma’ course was held in 2016 and that he was looking to conduct another one in April 2021. This time around, the coaches will also be sent on a foreign exposure trip to learn from the best in the business.

WATCH: Q&A session with AIFF Head of Coach Education Savio Medeira

Addressing the concern over the lack of proficient tacticians in India, Savio Medeira mentioned, “We have some of the good brains as good coaches in the country. Now, these good coaches are not getting regular coaching in the clubs and they are always used as assistants. So, when are they going to get better?” He added, “Our coaches at this level need regular competition, regular mentoring.”

“If our coaches are given ample opportunities at clubs and academies, then we will see a lot of good coaches. I can vouch for that we have some good coaches, maybe not enough; but, the ones we have are enough to take our country where we are looking for,” he believes.

It is also vital that the coaches interact and rub shoulders with shrewder minds across the world of football to develop a greater understanding of the sport. Elaborating on some prospective exposure programs for the tacticians, the Head of Coach Education at AIFF said, “We have an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Netherlands and DFB (Germany) at the moment. I am trying my best to see how the exposure could be done. To be honest, since we wanted a few of our better coaches to go, we had put a proposal to the Sports Authority of India.”

He further disclosed, “For us at AIFF, we all know that financially we are not that sound to send these coaches to these countries even when we have an MoU. I am also in talks with the Netherlands and DFB to see if can have a revalidation in how they can come down and help us, because that will also help us a lot.”

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In addition to his laudable honours, Medeira was also the head coach of the Indian national team for a brief period from October 2011-May 2012. The Blue Tigers had won the SAFF Championship under his stewardship and he had also led the side in the AFC Challenge Cup 2012. Reflecting on this memorable stint, he claimed, “Coaching the national team is something that I always dreamt of and it comes once in a lifetime. Representing your country and 1.3 billion people, there is nothing like it.”

In another episode of AIFF TV, the federation’s general secretary Kushal Das had remarked that he would love to see an Indian coach at the helm of affairs of the men’s national team five years from now. Medeira considered this viewpoint and stated his support to the same. He observed, “If talented coaches aren’t given regular chances at club, I-League and ISL levels, then how are they going to get this national team and how are they going to get this respect from the players?”

Medeira stressed upon the importance of offering time and maintaining patience with the Indian coaches, whereas, he also affirmed upon the need to provide them a valuable monetary package. “We have seen it at the junior level. Bibiano (Fernandes) is doing a good job. Floyd (Pinto) has sometimes done a good job with the U-18 team. Maymol (Rocky) is doing a very good job with the women’s team. Alex (Ambrose) was doing a very good job with the U-17 girls before Thomas (Dennerby) took over. So we know that we have got talent and how do we know? It’s because they were given a chance,” the former midfielder elucidated.

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