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I want to see Hyderabad back on the country's football map- Yogesh Maurya

Written by: Ravish R Narvekar

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The Co-owner of Fateh Hyderabad has no issues with the proposed road map for Indian football...

It has been more than four decades since we have heard the name of Hyderabad city on the Indian football map. The city which has produced more Olympian footballers than any other state in the country was more active in the beautiful game in the era from 1950-1970s but Yogesh Maurya’s Fateh Hyderabad Football Club are trying to bring back the golden days of the city. 

“We have got Hyderabad back on the Indian football map. We are looking to develop local players into professionals.”Maurya stated.

He further explained the reason for choosing the city over other established states saying, “There are many reasons for choosing Hyderabad and first one is my family is from here and I have been living here for almost 16 years. Secondly, I wanted to bring this city back on India's football map. I can tell you that, in future, there will be a lot of talent from this city.”

The club has been in operation for two years now and is currently playing in the I-League 2nd Division and like other club owners in the country, Maurya has also faced challenges in the startup but he takes every challenge as a new lesson.  

Yogesh Maurya is a good motivator and is known to be close to his players

“I can talk for more than five hours on challenges we faced at the start because running a club in India is a big challenge. It was difficult to manage infrastructure, it was difficult to manage a calendar and it was very difficult to keep players in. Every aspect of football is a big challenge in India. The system in India is so imperfect that, even a decision looks imperfect, it can turn out to be the wrong one and we just need to learn to live with that.” Maurya explained. The man fell in love with football growing up in New Jersey.

He further added saying “The biggest lesson I have learned is that, winning and losing isn’t everything. If you win one game, you feel great and if you lose one game you don’t feel great. It is more about the longer journey and relationship with the people you work with. Everything else finishes so quickly. My larger perspective is to focus more on service and serving the game.”

Maurya understands that the holistic development of football is going to take time and he's willing to wait

Fateh Hyderabad finished last with just four points in the Second Division qualifying in their debut season but unlike last season, the Hyderabad club was top the table with 12 points staying unbeaten in Group C and qualified for the final phase of the league this time.

“It’s completely different from last season. We are a much better team this time. I have been able to take better decisions than last time. We are well prepared and this is all because of last year’s experience. I have changed my viewpoint. I mean, we are a more defensively oriented team. We first look to keep a clean sheet and that is our priority. We really defend well. Second thing, I am more pragmatic in willing to play more direct and we are getting better results.” The AFC-B licence holder explained.

For a long time, South India was not represented on the national football map and Maurya blames the lack of investment and attention from the responsible entities for the same. However, he also believes that the situation will change if given time.

“There are lots of places in India where football is not focused and South India is no different. Emphasis to invest in football, attention and opportunities were absent here for so long and now it is coming up but it will take a little time,” said the technical director and co-owner of the club.

Clubs like Bengaluru FC have made a real mark and then there are our Chennaiyin FC and Chennai City FC, clubs which are playing in premier leagues. The experience has been mixed as far as fans are concerned; Kerala Blasters have arguably the best following in the Indian Super League. However, the two clubs from Tamil Nadu have struggled to attract fans at the matches. The Hyderabad club's co-owner is trying everything possible to get the club connected with fans. 

“We do what we can. We are promoted extensively on social media because it costs less money than advertising. I don’t want to spend our resources on advertising right away. We are a small club that is growing step by step. We are connected with communities as we do lots of event in various communities. We are growing organically. Lots of young people come here to watch the game. On weekends, we get around a thousand people and that’s without any advertising,” Maurya said.

The club believes in a balanced squad where the established local stars and youngsters, who come through the ranks, are given equal preferences. However, the club has also different ethos when it comes to the recruitment of players. 

Maurya knows the nitty-gritties of Indian football well and does a lot of research before taking important decisions

“First thing is that they need to fit the values of our club. That is the most important thing because, if their character does not fit to our club's, their talent might be wonderful but it won’t work. The second thing is discipline. The discipline we see in a player and the third thing is their desire to win. How badly do they want to win in everything they do, on and off the pitch? Those are the three main criteria. Rest comes later, his position or his strengths or weaknesses. And of course, we love to field more local players. We have already signed one local player, Mohammed Rafique who is a really class to watch with the ball. Still, it is going take some time to get him into the first team.” He explained.

Lack of football infrastructure is a big problem in the country, which always makes it hard for development of the players but Maurya has something different in his mind.

“You can say that we are always falling short but I have noticed a lot of improvement in infrastructure. I believe that we have a shortage of facilities and it takes a lot of investment from private parties to get those facilities. But in the perspective of developing a player, I always ask people how are these players from Africa and South America playing in the Champions League and top leagues of the world when they are many poor countries than India in terms of providing infrastructure?” He questioned on the development of players.

However, he also wants to be a helping hand in improving the present state of football infrastructure in the country. The former COO of Zentec Software Pvt. Ltd. wants to build his own training facilities and get the best infrastructure for his side. 

The cohesiveness in the team is there for everyone to see and the players are willing to give their everything on the pitch

“We want to build our own training facilities because we are in that state now where we want them on a daily basis. We are growing to that point. Not all states can afford to support their clubs with all these facilities but some states are blessed with good grounds and other facilities. So we are willing to do that,” he expressed. 

He also expressed his willingness to start an academy where players will get groomed under good coaches. Maurya also stated that he would love to see his players represent the country.

“We want to develop players from all regions. We want to create a player who will represent the country and play in top leagues. We have a joint venture with Premier Education from the United Kingdom. It helps children to get exposed to sports and also helps them to get physically active and to develop from the youngest age,” he said.

Talking about the roadmap of Indian football, there is still no clarity on the proposed merger between the ISL and the I-League. However, the co-owner of the club has no issues if the same happens and he also assured that, no matter what the scene is on the football map in the country in the coming days, Fateh Hyderabad will always there in it.  

“We are looking forward to some certainty around whatever is going to happen but no matter what we will be there for sure. Of course, it is challenging to work in the volatile environment but we don’t focus on an external situation so much, we focus more on our internal things like growing our club or developing players. I am looking our club in I-League in future and I don’t have any problem if it will be tier two league because we have started from the lower league. And of course if not now but we will love to see relegation and promotion in the top tier leagues.” Maurya concluded.  

  

Published: Thu Apr 20, 2017 04:20 PM IST

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