The 67-year-old spoke about his experience in Japan and how the sport has developed there over the years.
Before taking the helm at Odisha FC, Stuart Baxter travelled around the globe enough for him to be described as a footballing journeyman. Be it playing and coaching in his home country of England or venturing to different parts of the world – including Asia and Africa – seeking new opportunities, the 67-year-old has enjoyed a variety of experiences.
Due to his vast experience, not only will he offer something different to Odisha FC in just a managerial sense, but also gift them the knowledge of how a team should be developed in the right way. Moreover, Baxter is ideal for inputs about how to modernize Indian football and take it to the next level.
In Khel Now’s Beyond The Scores podcast, the Odisha FC head coach spoke about the various elements which Indian football could learn from some other developed footballing countries. “I think there’s many, many things that can be learnt from Japanese football. I’m not only saying that Indian football can learn, but a lot of people like those in England, Germany, France can also learn from Japan. The way they’re so meticulous in approaching development.”
“They have coaching centres with lots of pitches and lots of facilities for coach education and player development. The investment in grassroots. There’s such a finger on the course all the time, about how many foreigners do we have? How much money can we invest on the foreigners?”
“All of that alongside the development of the training facilities. The development of stadiums. How pleasant it is for the supporters to come watch the product. The television rights. The J-League became a better product at the same time when it became a better plan to develop football. So, I think all those of things can be implemented in Indian football.”
“Then there’s the obvious yet important thing about allowing the youth players to go into the league. The youngsters are encouraged by the league to be promoted. In the reserve teams, there has to be a certain number of young players. That automatically helps to fast-track people into the senior team.”
“All of those things is something I hope that we’ll learn. Some of those are relevant for India and some are not. So, I hope we can look at their developmental process, we can take that and we can add it to the cocktail that will become the formula for the advancement of the game in India.”
Of course, the ushering of the Indian Super League has brought a significant level of improvement to many of these “quintessential” things mentioned by Stuart Baxter. Not only have the training facilities and professionalism gotten better, there have been more coach education programs brought in by the All India Football Federation as well.
The stadiums across India have also been developed into world-class facilities and are continuously improving to meet top standards. The grassroots level is slowly, but surely getting better with more prominent youngsters coming through the system and shining in the top flight. During his spell at Odisha, not only will Baxter aim to make them play better football, but he’ll try to stabilize and modernize the entire organizational system and ensure that it’s on the right path to becoming an elite hub of Indian football – not just a very good football club.