“Reliance Foundation Young Champs facility is on par with international standards”, says Tottenham Hotspur Foundation coach Sabrina Dias

Mumbai, November 29: Taking forward the culture of dialogue of ideas and philosophies, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation football coach Sabrina Dias visited the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) in Navi Mumbai last week as part of the North London club’s measures to engage with fans and promote the development of football at grassroots level. In addition to engaging with coaches and young enthusiasts of the sport, Dias also engaged in an insightful session with the RFYC players from different age categories.

Dias said that the Reliance Foundation and their initiatives should be a benchmark for footballing development in India and celebrated the RFYC facility to be on par with global standards. She explained that the entire program, which propelled 12 graduates from the 2023 batch to sign professional contracts with Indian clubs, is designed in a way that takes care of an all-round, holistic development of a youngster.

“What I saw at the (Reliance Foundation Young Champs) academy is excellent. I have coached for five years now. I have been to Switzerland, countries like South Korea, but I have never seen something like that. That not just improves the players’ footballing abilities, but also their mental and the social sides. What I saw was totally excellent, and it is really good for the boys,” Dias said in an interaction.

The Spurs tactician said that RFYC has laid a pathway for other similar entities to look at, get inspired from, and work towards to create similar amenities to grow the sport in India.

Dias is someone who has worked extensively in training budding professionals and then at an advanced level in the broadened youth development structure of Tottenham. In that context, she has ample understanding of what goes behind developing an individual and also giving shape to a successful youth team that can excel and win laurels in the various developmental games that happen weekly. She believes that it is a step by step process, but focused mechanisms regarding the same should be put in place across the country so that its collective results could be yielded in the foreseeable future.

“I think that’s a base mark of what can be done for (football) in India. What you (Reliance Foundation) have done here, is so good that all teams should look at that as the base and try to hit that spot. What I saw there was really good, especially for the players, because many of them are moving away from their homes. They are not used to that environment, and getting to know something new, especially young players such as the U-14s, if other teams watch what you are doing, it will grow the project and bring in more players,” Dias remarked.

Dias held a session focusing on three footballing aspects, namely: ball marshalling, passing, and 1v1 situations at the RFYC. Each of these areas was touched upon in great detail, with the players getting an in-depth understanding of their undercurrent layers as well. They were interconnected to a great degree as well, for example, the skills learnt in the ball controlling session were put into use whilst polishing a player’s 1v1 skills. Working with goalkeepers, ensuring that they are comfortable with the ball on their feet amidst tight spaces and when they are being pressed by the opponents was also explored.

“Something that I can really overlap from both sides is the hunger from the players, is what I can see in both countries. In terms of the weather, the boys here are really hitting the high levels,” Dias quipped upon her first thoughts from the entire exercise. She is a proponent of applying tactical inputs practically on the field, and hence encouraged coaches in India to provide their players concentrated and competitive game-time focusing on broad themes that are taught during technical sessions.

“Game time is very important. In the United Kingdom (UK), we focus on technical sessions based on certain topics, and for every session we at least have 20-25 minutes of match time. So that they can put all that they have learned in a session into a situation that is match realistic. Always link a situation to a match, so that the kids learn off it,” Dias signed off.

Also Read: Sergio Lobera: I decided to come back to the ISL because I was very happy working in India and we love this country

Also Read: AIFF President Mr. Kalyan Chaubey: We have received information of multiple approaches to our players

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