In conversation sans coffee (version 2.0)- With Akhil Kothari

Akhil Kothari, Kenkre FC's Under 17 Coach

So on the penultimate day of the 5th edition of the Kenkre Champion’s League, our main man Kaushal Shukla got the opportunity to interview another young Kenkre gaffer, Akhil Kothari.


He was a man at loggerheads with himself on the final day of the tournament as both the Under-17 teams coached by him K- Blues and K- Greens battled it out for the top of the table finish with the K- Greens eventually clinching the championship in a thriller two game series affair on account of goal difference.

So the tournament comes to an end today with a double win… How was the journey, what were the challenges?

We started with the selection of these teams in October, and most of these boys are in the 10th grade or Junior College, so the main challenge is to motivate them to come for practice because you really can’t force them. Once past that, we sat and planned a system on how to train them. These teams then apart from playing in the Kenkre Champions’s League also played a private tournament and are in the running for qualification in the MDFA 1st Division. So yeah, it’s been pretty good.

Now, you coach both the K- Blues and the K- Greens. What were your words to them today as they were indirectly pitted against each other for the final trophy?

I had a combined team meeting before the matches, I just told them that there has to be no rivalry factor involved for you are competing against your own team mates. They were working on a goal difference of +9 and the Greens scored 10 goals to secure the first place. The essential thing is to just motivate and encourage these kids from the grass roots, under- 17 level to do better, because then only will they progress and perform at the under- 19 and senior level in  the future.

So, when they faced each other earlier in the tournament.. what did you do, it was basically YOUR team against YOUR team?

It was difficult! (a sense of relief enveloped across his face!) I was just standing at the centre and I instructed both the teams to concentrate on their own game and play according to the planned system. The mantra was to play tough and not rough football. They did that effectively, and the match ended in a draw.

On the tournament as a whole, what do you infer about its scope especially when it comes to all the small kids who participate?

A bright future lies ahead, I was watching a few kids earlier on and told my colleagues about the same. This is the basic level and the place to spot young talent because these are the guys you can watch out for, and when they make the cut in the youth teams, it enables us to know the growth in their performance from their earlier days. It’s a great opportunity at a young age if you bank on it.

With this we wished Akhil all the best for his MDFA stint and also hope to see him back next year coaching the Under- 17 fellows in the Kenkre Champions League probably yet again with his team facing his team!

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