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From washing dishes to winning the ISL, Petr Kratky has come a long way

Published at :May 9, 2024 at 5:40 PM
Modified at :May 9, 2024 at 5:40 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

JN Balraj

Petr Kratky won the maiden trophy of his managerial career in his maiden final, outwitting the tactics of ISL legend Antonio Habas.

“For me as a coach, I want to see the local players performing and growing. I just hope they keep performing and proving they are good footballers, because they are,” this is what Petr Kratky said in an interaction prior to guiding Mumbai City FC through all the challenges to their second ISL trophy. 

Rightly said, without underplaying the importance and performances of the likes of Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Yoell van Nieff to Kratky’s team, this clearly is a side that was propelled by domestic youngsters. A young manager coming up mid-season and the team loses its best player is enough to derail the momentum for any team. But Petr Kratky did not see it that way, he turned it into an opportunity for the local lads to be the front-runners.

That is not something the Czech manager has adapted to overnight, it is what made him since he started. The journey to lifting the Indian Super League trophy in the Mecca of Indian football, silencing a crowd of 62,007 fans was equally idiosyncratic. 

The Journeyman

It all started when after taking up football as a child, for the first time in his life Kratky felt the emptiness in life. A little less than a decade ago the Czech international announced his retirement from football at Heidelberg United.

As they say, every ending is the beginning of a new story. After every end, while starting fresh we have the chance to write off something better than the last time in our destiny. That’s what the newly retired professional had in mind who managed to complete his UEFA coaching badges while playing in the Czech Republic.

To land better opportunities, he knew relocating was the option for him. The first thing he did to support his desire was to learn English.

The Challenges

Petr Kratky did a course in English, packed his bags and moved to Melbourne in Australia. He didn’t expect life to be easy after taking the plunge. And, it wasn’t easy as well for the Czech citizen.

Since he didn’t really know the language, he had to work in dreary blue-collar jobs. “I washed plates and dishes, then when my English became slightly better, I worked as a waiter and even did bartending shifts,” he recalled in an interview with Indian Express about his start to life in Australia.

Kratky believes the struggles he had to go through and the delayed opportunities were which helped him in what he has done at the helm of Mumbai City FC. 

He told Indian Express, “When I started working as a coach, I started with the youngest and gradually went to the higher ages. While it’s been a long journey because you have to go through all the age groups, it has taught me how to connect with all kinds of players. When we were coaching 30-45 kids in one session, you have to find a way to send your message across. Kids, youth, and seniors have different mindsets and I’m lucky to have coached all ages which has definitely helped me here in Mumbai because we have players of different age groups and mindsets.”

On the personal front too, the manager had to face humongous challenges. He shared, “Since getting married over three months ago (in January), I’ve spent only eight days with my wife. It’s not easy for anyone to work abroad and get separated from the family.”

Just in half of a season as a head coach, Petr Kratky has achieved what everyone dreams of in their coaching lifetime, and it’s just the start of his story. 

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