When Wim Koevermans was appointed as the Indian national team's head coach, he announced that he is keen on introducing a new brand of football in the country. The five-day coaching seminar organized by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) which commenced on Monday is a good step towards achieving that goal. The seminar is being attended by 65 coaches from all over India.
The 52 year old Dutchman claimed to have watched and followed the Indian national team prior to taking up the post. The main aspect of the national side's play that baffles the Dutchman is the way in which they give the ball away.
"The style of play is very direct. The ball is on the ground for a few passes and then suddenly someone kicks it up in the air and loses possession. If we keep the ball on the ground then we have a chance," he said.
He went on to use former India captain, Bhaichung Bhutia who was seated on his left, as a prop in an impromptu demonstration when he asked the striker to stand up with him. As the former Dutch defender towered over the Sikkimese forward, he explained, "Bhaichung is an Indian striker and I am a big central defender. If you play long balls forward, he has no chance."
He went on to explain that Indian players are generally small and would benefit from having the ball on the ground. He sighted the Spanish national team as an example of a group small players thriving under a possession based system although he made it clear that he wasn't making any comparisions.
The former High Performance Director of Football Association of Ireland believes that the Indian senior side do have players who can pass the ball and has spotted a few in the U-22 team as well. When asked whether a host of U-22 players will be implemented in the senior team, he answered by stating that seven have already been selected in the initial squad for the Nehru Cup and if they are able to cope with that level and play with the more experienced players then they will be given a chance.
However, he says that the exact way in which India will play is down to the players and their strengths. He suggests that the strategy will have to be tailored to the players' skills and abilities.
Koevermans stated the importance of the AIFF's iniative to educate the coaches in India. He points out that youth development is essential and the coaches responsible for grooming those players must have the same idea and vision he and the AIFF have in regard to how football should be played in India.
"The next five days are important. The philosophy needs to be understood by all," the former Dutch international stressed.
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