The former India international briefly discussed his playing career, coaching, national team and more.
Gouramangi Singh first burst into the national team in the year 2006 after a series of good performances for Mohun Bagan and Sporting Goa. The 5”11’ centre-back was one of the consistent performers in the early half of the last decade and the later half before that for the national team.
The 34-year old “Manipuri Wall” last played professional football for NEROCA FC in the 2017-18 season. Since then, he did his coaching diploma and is currently the holder of the AFC ‘A’ licence. He now serves as an assistant coach for FC Bengaluru United – the new entrants in the second division and Khel Now recently caught up with him for an exclusive interview.
The conversation began with Gouramangi Singh explaining how the transition from a player to a coach has been for him. “It’s different from playing to a coach, but it’s a natural progression. That’s the only thing you know, as in the last 20 years you’ve only played football. Now, you try to understand and learn the game, so it’s a natural progression. But, I do miss my playing days.”
A Possible Career Extension As a Player?
“I do believe I can play for a couple of years more and the people around me keep on saying that. But, I had to decide between playing and coaching because I had already started my coaching with the academy. I started back home and it’s not right to keep two feet in two places at one moment. So, I chose coaching and it is something I look forward to carrying on in future as well,” he said.
Purpose Of Joining FC Bengaluru United
The ex-India International described the purpose to join Bengaluru United, as he went on to say, “Our head coach, Richard (Hood), was the second instructor for the ‘A’ licence and I know him from last few years because he has been around the circuit. We had this chat somewhere around the third module that there might be an opportunity in Bengaluru and he asked if I’d be interested in a project working together. That’s how I took up the project.”
Working With Richard Hood
“I’ve worked under numerous coaches as a player, but as I said he was the instructor during ‘A’ license and the information and knowledge he has is amazing. I was home after my third module and he called me up and asked if I’m interested. The first question I asked him was, ‘Why should I come to Bengaluru?’ Because more than anything I needed to know what kind of project it is. I would like to work in an environment in which I believe and we came to know we share the same idea.”
“It’s about the philosophy (and) the style of football we want to play. Richard is well informed and one of the young coaches who has a bright future in India. That’s what I believe.”
Competitiveness Of BDFA Super League
“To be honest, you can’t compare the league with the other state leagues like Goa (Pro) League, Kerala League or Calcutta Football League. But, I spoke with the people who are around the league and they said this year the competitiveness has increased. Last year, when Bengaluru FC won the league they were 10-15 points ahead of the rest and this year it is very competitive,” said Gouramangi Singh.
Realistic Targets For The Season
FC Bengaluru United had a great start to life in the Second Division League winning two games out of the first three. When quizzed about their ambitions and realistic targets this season, he said, “We are very happy with the start we got, but the credit goes to the boys, they played well. As far as our season goes we take one game at a time.”
Young And Inexperienced Squad
Interestingly, FC Bengaluru United have one of the youngest squads in the league. When questioned if it would come back to haunt them, Gouramangi Singh quoted, “You can look at it in two ways. For someone like Richard and I, we are concentrating on what we have rather focusing on things we don’t have. We see it as what are the advantages of having such a young squad. These boys, when they play 2-3 years they’ll have experience. But, right now we are not focusing on experience.”
The conversation turned towards his playing days and we asked if there were any regrets or any unrealized dreams he wished to be part of. The former Churchill Brothers stalwart smilingly yet humbly replied, “I won’t change a thing, but the only thing I miss is the group training, dressing room atmosphere right now. I’m the coach, but it’s different to what it was when I was a player. Looking back at last 15-20 years, that was amazing.”
On Igor Stimac And National Team Squad
Gouramangi Singh gave an honest thought on the current India head coach Igor Stimac. He feels the Croatian tactician should be given time to prove his worth. “ The new head coach has come in and he has tried to implement a new system and the boys are adapting to it. I think he should be given time. He has brought in a new philosophy and it takes time for them to adapt.”
Players Used In Unnatural Positions
There has been a recent trend in Indian football, where domestic players are not getting to play in their natural positions. There’s no clarity of roles and speaking on that Singh said, “It is easier to speak about clarity of roles. But, I think it comes down to the coach because eventually what they look is, ‘Who are my best players?’ Because of certain rules regarding foreigners, it is hard for some young Indian players to break through.”
“We want our players to do well for their clubs, but what happens is due to certain systems or some big players, our players cannot play. So, despite knowing it the players should challenge themselves and ask the coach ‘Hey coach can I play there?'” he quoted.
Pick For Best Young Centre-Back
When asked about the centre-back who has impressed him this season he critically replied, “It’s very hard to recall one name. I don’t recall any player, maybe (Sumit) Rathi and (Narender) Gahlot but they need to be given more time. They need to make the most of the opportunities and try to cement their places for their respective teams.”
Involvement In Other Activities
“I come from Imphal, but I have travelled a lot throughout the country. Right now, I’m in Bengaluru and my wife’s from Delhi, So, whenever we get the time we go out for a vacation and if you look my life has revolved around football. I last played for NEROCA in 2018 and since then I’ve been busy coaching in Imphal for a project called Kago Football Training Centre with my friend Karan and we have around 100 children who are part of the academy,” he quoted.