ISL’s Grassroots programe essential for Football in India Festival: Piet Hubers

(L-R) Gavin Araujo, Head of Coaching Officer Devlopment, FC Goa, Piet Hubers, Techincal Director Grassroots, Indian Super League and Rahul Raichand, Chief Marketing Officer, FC Goa interacting with the media

Piet Hubers, Technical Director Grassroots, Hero Indian Super League

Over the period of two weeks in cooperation with ISL clubs we are organising grassroots festivals to select talented players in various cities. We are here to identify talented boys and girls born in 2002, 2003 and 2004. From each festival we will select around 200 children for the next phase which will be a training camp in May. From the training camp we will select around 25 kids for the scholarship program under the ever Reliance Foundation Young Champs Scholarship Program, which will start in the season of 2015-2016.

We think that it is important that all the ISL clubs work together to promote grassroots football at every level, because that is the most important thing for a better future of the game in India. In my opinion, we must realise and try to create a sustainable grassroots football infrastructure so that every child, boy or girl, must have the opportunity to play regularly in the grassroots leagues and train regularly under a qualified coach. It is a very good decision by ISL that it has made it a prerequisite that every club must have a grassroots program, which is essential for the future of football in India.

Infrastructure, vision for grassroots development and good coach are essential for the development of football in India. If a child gets a good remark from the coach, he or she will improve in football, enjoy football more and become a better player. A coach makes a better player, a better player makes a better team and a better team makes a better club and better club will make a better nation.  So it all fits together but it all comes down to grassroots. My personal aim for football in India is that every child should wake up on a Monday morning and want to play at the next grassroots match over the weekend.

Gavin Araujo,  Coaching Development Officer, FC Goa

I am very proud to say that we have tied up with 16 schools- eight in the north and eight in the south. We have taken 12 coaches under our wing to look after these 16 schools. In each school, each child trains three times in a week.  In two months we have registered almost 1600 kids. Today we have selected 200 of those 1600 kids to be part of the grassroots football festival. It is a good initiative by ISL to introduce grassroots program because through this programme we will have a supply line which will produce our next Mandar and Romeo from Goa.

Press conference addressed by Piet Hubers, Technical Director Grassroots, Hero Indian Super League, Rahul Raichand, Chief Marketing Officer, FC Goa and Gavin Araujo, Head, Coaching Development Officer, FC Goa.

  1. FC Goa started its scouting program quite late. How difficult was it to come to this number, since you had 1600 kids and you had to select 200, since there was hardly any time?

    Gavin- We had taken help from the physical education teachers of every school. Our grassroots coaches work with the PE teachers, so it became a little easier, since the PE teachers know the kids quite well. All our coaches gave their inputs to Mr. Piet and he will take it forward from here.

    Piete- We will be making a list for each club. To announce the final list of 200 players for the training camp I have to compare the players from one club to another club. After the last festival in Delhi on April 16, 2015 the final list of players will be announced who will be invited for the training camp.

  2. How many cities have you covered so far?

    Piet- Goa was the second city. Tuesday, April 07 we were in Guwahati. Saturday, April 11 we are going to Chennai, Sunday, April 12 to Kolkata, Monday, April 20 we are going to Mumbai, Tuesday, April 21 to Kochi, then we go to Pune and finally we go to Delhi on 16 April.

  3. What are you essentially looking in these players?

    Piet- Every player wants a good coach, good team and good pitch to play and good policy from the club and that’s what makes football strong worldwide. Every kid who was here knows how play and knows all the players due to the exposure to the game through various mediums. When I was a kid I had to learn only from my training coach. But now one can go on YouTube or Facebook and they have access to all the information.

  4. Is there any minimum number of kids you will pick from each franchisee?

    Piet- No, there is no fixed number. We will pick 200 best players in several positions, goalkeepers, mid-fielders, defenders. The best 200 players will be invited. Theoretically it could also be that all the 200 can be selected from one club itself, but that won’t be the case for sure. Every club will contribute some players for the training camp for sure.

  5. What is the most important thing in the grassroots program?

    Piet- The most important thing is that the kids should learn together. When children learn to play football, technique is the most important thing. Technique should be combined with insight and communication within the team. It’s important to know when to make the right decision. It’s about functional techniques in the match. Today we played position-plays so that we can identify talents like in a real situation of the game. Today we played more or less like a real football game, with opponents and teammates in certain areas. We created situations so that we can identify talent accordingly.

  6. How many students are you looking to select for the scholarship program?

    Piet- In the end about 24 players will be selected in three age categories of kids born in 2002, 2003 and 2004. So approximately in each category there will be eight players.

  7. How do the kids benefit from this scholarship program? Will this be a residential program for the selected children?

    Piet- Yes it will be a full time program. They will spend the time together with the coaches, training session’s twice everyday and there will school programs in between. It will be residential academy based in Mumbai.

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