The young tactician also spoke regarding his time with Colin Toal, working with Ranjit Bajaj and Punjab FC.
Coaching as a career in India has always remained as a post-retirement plan for playerrs. However, with changing times, Yan Law has proven the age-old phrase that ‘age is just a number.’
The 27-year-old is the youngest AFC A-license holder in the country but before that, he was a more than decent player. Yan Law feels that his career took shape as a coach primarily because of his training stint at Arsenal.
“There was this Arsenal national camp with 50,000 kids coming from all over the country and I was one of them with a dream of going to Europe. So, I was one of the lucky ones and when I went there I learned a lot of things about football.”
“The coaches (Martin Davis and Paul Shipwright) were very friendly, unlike some of the junior coaches here in India. The coaches there were like family. Earlier I used to be afraid of my coach here, so gradually I understood the importance of the relationship. I implemented the same in my coaching,” the newly appointed Mohammedan SC head coach told Khel Now in an exclusive interview.
The prodigy did not stop, there as he featured for the India U-19s where he trained under Colin Toal and once again learned the ways of coaching from the Briton.
“After coming back from Arsenal I got the chance of playing under the Father of Youth Football in India (Colin Toal). Colin sir changed the scenario of youth football and after him, we started playing some tactical football. Whatever we learned from him we carry it out even today. He is a great coach and he treated us as his own children. He made us what we are today,” the former Punjab FC head coach recalled.
Yan Law played for George Telegraph in the Calcutta Football League and simultaneously coached kids at their family NGO named Calcutta Social project, where poor kids would be coached free of cost. With minutes on the pitch drying up he got his first coaching opportunity in the fifth division.
“When I did my coaching license, I started recollecting things that I learnt at Arsenal and also under Colin Toal. You start thinking differently,” Yan Law asserted.
“Joydeep Mukherjee gave me my first coaching opportunity to coach for his team, Calcutta United. The team was in the fifth division, but I did not think about it and immediately agreed. We were the champions of the division that season and it was a fantastic moment for me. I was never driven by money or fame, it was always for the love of the game,” he reminisced.
Yan Law was appointed as Mohammedan Sporting’s new head coach ahead of the upcoming 2020-21 season. With prior experience of managing the Black Panthers’ youth team, he highlighted the difference in both jobs, “Youth football is not about winning trophies, it is more about developing players. So, this is different, that time Mohammedan had a limited budget and they were getting players only from Bengal, so it was a limited squad. Whereas other youth teams had scouting networks all over the country, but we were very good.”
Coming back to the 2019-20 season, Punjab FC and Yan Law finished the campaign in third place in the I-League, tied on points with second-placed East Bengal. Speaking about his experience in Punjab, the former AIFF Development Officer shared his stories.
“We had a great pre-season, where we started off with the Punjab League and we were unbeaten champions. Then we played against ISL clubs and did well against them. The team was doing well and that’s where I started gaining confidence,” he reminisced.
“I think our I-League campaign was a successful one, we started poorly and I thought I would lose my job after that. But, Ranjit (Bajaj) came and motivated us to keep fighting for the remaining games. After that, we went eleven matches unbeaten. We were title contenders for some time as well,” he further added.
India does not have many young coaches working with senior sides. However, Yan Law feels that it is more about managing individuals than managing the whole team.
“When you are working with professionals, you are not only handling the team, you are handling individuals. Every person has a different way of reacting and mindset, so as a coach you must know how to handle individuals. If can do that then the team is automatically yours. I have always had great relations with my players and this actually came from my Arsenal days, it was just like how my coaches there treated us,” he opined.
“At Minerva, we were like a family. People think a lot of things about Mr. Bajaj but when you work with him it is completely opposite. He has played football, so he understands things. He also knows how to manage players and sometimes he even managed me when I was down after losing a game. The way he used to motivate me was next level. That is the thing I want to learn from him, I have learnt a lot in my time there. I am blessed that he gave me the opportunity, ” Yan added on his experiences of working with Ranjit Bajaj.
Recent seasons have seen Mohammedan SC going into an unfortunate slump. However, following some key managerial changes, they have made several good signings for the I-League 2nd Division. When quizzed about the pressure that lies ahead, Yan Law sparkled with confidence.
“The pressure is always there, whether you work at Mohammedan or at Minerva. I have been going through the details and I think I know what changes I need to make to get this team back to the I-League, where they actually belong. I have learnt a lot from Minerva. The squad looks good and the management has been very supportive. Things are looking positive and I can assure you that my team will play good football.
“The players have been sitting for 4-5 months now without a proper training session on the grass. So, it is definitely going to be a challenge to get them back to match-fitness and playing as a unit. A lot of things will be new for them, so they have to adapt,” Yan Law opined.
Yan Law has several years of working experience in grassroots football and therefore he pointed out the areas that still need improvement. “First thing that grassroots needs are good coaches. Infrastructure is not the problem, otherwise we would not have hosted two World Cups. Also, how are countries from Africa playing in the World Cup? Their facilities are inferior to ours,” he asked.
“We also have enough numbers. We just need good coaches. Everyone after completing their ‘D’ license wants to work with the senior team, none of them want to work with youth. Here the good coaches are working with the senior team and D license holders are working at youth level which is not good,” he added.
“One more thing which I would like to add is that we should make our coaching courses in regional language. The courses are in English and now some of the former players and some good coaches do not continue because they don’t understand the language. But, countries like Spain, Japan, China, Germany and so on have it in their language and it allows more coaches to come forward. Imagine how many coaches will turn up if the courses are in regional languages.”
The young tactician also feels that Indian football is heading in the right direction with the ISL. However, he also asserted that the developments should have taken place much earlier.
“After the ISL, a lot of things in Indian football have been professional. But, what is happening right now should have happened 20 years ago. It is great that it is happening, better late than never. There is a lot of professionalism and now with hard work, I think India can qualify for the World Cup in the next 15 years.”