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'The 2017 under-17 World Cup will give future superstars to Indian football'

Last updated on: April 04, 2014 11:07 IST

'The 2017 under-17 World Cup will give future superstars to Indian football'

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Laxmi Negi

'Sunil Chettri [India’s senior team captain and goal machine] won’t be playing until he is 70. That’s why we need a young talent pool.

'We need to give youngsters the experience of playing at the international level,' Wim Koevermans, coach of India's senior football team, tells Rediff.com's Laxmi Negi.

India's football coach Wim Koevermans is working diligently to shape India’s next generation of footballers, but chooses to stay out of the limelight.

The lanky 53-year-old former defender of the Netherlands’ Euro 1988 squad is an integral part of the senior national team for a little less than two years now and seems to have settled into his role nicely. He travels to different parts of the country and watches a lot of matches in the hope of spotting special football talent.

His interactions with the media, though, can be boringly straightforward, and sometimes ridiculously broad, but there is a glimmer of hope for Indian football when he talks about its future. He is of the view that the key is "coach education".

In Mumbai to oversee the ongoing Asian Football Confederation B-License course at the Cooperage football ground, Kovermans spoke with Rediff.com’s Laxmi Negi.
 
How do you rate India’s preparation for Under-17 World Cup in 2017?
It is nice that we will have a tournament for Under-17 in India; it's for the kids who will be the stars of the future.
The preparation part is an ongoing process. There has been a check-up on the stadium and there will be reports about what improvements need to be done.
 
How are you involved in the process?
I am not directly involved, but the tournament will be of great help to Indian football. The country will see superstars of the future.  It will be a huge magnet for football and the spin-off should not halt the development.

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Image: India's football coach Wim Koevermans (extreme left) with Asian Football Confederation B License course coaches at the Cooperage football ground in Mumbai
Photographs: AIFF Media
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Will the Under-19 and Under-17 AIFF academy players find a place in the India's Asian Games squad?

We can have younger boys in the team and, as the Asian Games team will be under-23, we can surely include the extremely talented boys from our academy.

Having said that, we will make sure that the age gap is not too big.

Sometimes, it is good to give them an experience. Also, Sunil Chettri [India’s senior team captain and goal machine] won’t be playing until he is 70. That’s why we need a young talent pool. We need to follow up and give the youngsters the experience of playing at the international level.
 
What about the preparation for the Asian Games [from September 19 to October 4]?

We will have good preparation for the Under-23. As a lot of players play in the I-League, the boys should be in touch. Ideally, we are trying for two exposure camps outside India, preferably playing higher-ranked teams.
 
Can you say something about your experience with India’s senior national team?
It has been a learning experience. For Indian football to flourish, the coaches are the future.

Every coach that goes though the A, B,C, D licenses will help more kids to take up football. These kids will be playing under the right guidance. It is one of the reasons I travel and interact with these coaches and tutors.


Image: Wim Koevermans during a media interaction
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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