The newly-appointed head coach spoke about his the youngsters in the team, support from the local government and more.

In a live video conferencing session organized by hockey High Performance Centre (HPC) in Bhubaneswar – Naval Tata Hockey Academy (NTHA), Odisha today, Odisha FC Head Coach Mr. Stuart Baxter highlighted the importance of Social Responsibility of a football club and said that the club wants to inspire more and more kids in the state and help them in their discipline and decision making. This is an initiative of NTHA in partnership with the Department of Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha.

“I am so pleased with the support that we have from the local government in Odisha. We have to make sure that we inspire kids in Odisha. I want to see some sort of two way traffic where players go to schools and speak some kind words to the students. Social responsibility is an important part and would want ourselves as a team to work towards that as well. When we can get more kids inspired and get them into sporting projects, we can help in their discipline, their decision making, their self-esteem,” said OFC gaffer Mr. Stuart Baxter during the session which was moderated by Mr. Rajiv Seth, Project Director, NTHA and ex first-class cricketer with journalist and emcee Diksha Tiwari as co-host.

With the title of the live session being “Football in the new normal”, Mr. Baxter talked about the challenges ahead for the players and support staff. With the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) scheduled to be played in Goa without spectators, the OFC Head Coach responded to the question on the absence of crowd by saying, “You have to do the job to make sure that you are independent of the crowd. I have spoken to many coaches in China and the United States. Even my son is working with Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa and everybody has said that the teams that have the best support are mostly suffering. We have to be 100% focused and have discipline in the squad.”

Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter in a live session

Mr. Baxter also shared experiences from his 25-year-long coaching career and also talked about some of the most memorable moments of his playing career.

Emphasizing on Odisha FC’s vision regarding promoting young and talented Indian footballers, the Coach said, “Obviously, I haven’t seen the young talents that we have on field, I have seen some video clips and it is interesting. I understand the project. For me, this is gonna be a manager managing a project and a coach managing the people. I have to manage both. I need to understand the project and how we can drive the project. We have that part which is more management and then there is coaching where the young and talented players need to be developed. That is also a process that needs to be managed. I have to coach, inspire, and empower the young players both for life and for the football field.”

“I would like to think that the young boys we have are going to develop. I will bring something that they will find interesting and inspiring and they will try and stretch themselves. We will certainly do a good job for Odisha FC and I hope that we are also doing a good job for Indian football and the Indian National Team. Being a former national coach, you want the clubs to throw more quality players so that the pool that you can select from becomes deeper and broader,” the 67-year-further added.

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He also talked about the new foreign signings like Diego Mauricio, Marcelinho, Steven Taylor, Manuel Onwu and Jacob Tratt and how their presence and mentality can help the team do well and also guide the Indian players in Odisha FC. “We have signed some of the foreign players whom the Indian public will love watching and Indian youngster will love to play with and learn from,” he stated.

When asked about his aims and aspirations being the OFC Head Coach, he replied, “If you ask any professional what is your goal, they will reply winning something is the goal. If I don’t have a target of winning something then it’s for fun. But, it’s not for fun. The fans want to win and the players want to win.

“We have a young team and I want them to have a target to be better than they were last year. They will do that through is self-development and team development. If we can do that, we can go to top four. If we go to top four, we have something to win. This is a process,” Coach Baxter concluded. 

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