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In an exclusive interview with Goal.com, Barua believes that an I-League for women is the need of the hour...

India's former International player Anadi Barua was appointed chief coach of the Indian women's national football team on January 10, 2013. After his illustrious career as a player which involved being awarded the best player in Subroto Cup in 1980 and representing India in the Nehru Gold Cup, Barua was appointed the coach of Delhi for Santosh Trophy.

The Indian Women Football Team leveled a two-match series against the Dutch by beating them 1-0 at the Father Agnel Sports Complex at Navi Mumbai last weekend. The first match was held at Chhatrapati Shahu stadium in Kolhapur on January 17 where the women from Europe came out on top with a 2-0 victory.

An elated Barua said in a post-match interview, “We played against a good team, ranked 38 positions above us and beat them. Thanks to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Western India Football Association (WIFA) who organized the match. Women football will benefit from such tournaments and these should take place more often.”

When asked about his first real experience on coaching the India Eves, he explained, “I have played football for the Indian team but this was my first assignment as a coach for the girls’ team. We trained twice daily for about 10-to-12 days in Kolhapur. The big positive from the game in Kolhapur was that we dominated 80% of the game however it was unfortunate that we couldn’t score.”

The coach believes that even though they scored a goal in the second match, it wasn’t their best performance. He added, “The team didn’t play the way I would have liked them to play. In the practice session, we had focused on one-touch passes, diagonal passes and zonal marking, which to an extent we did exhibit during the game but we could have played better.”

In response to the question of his preference between coaching and playing for India, Mr, Anadi explained, “More than playing, I enjoy coaching. The women’s team certainly turned out to be more competent than I expected them to be when I took this job. In 2012, there were a few young players who joined the squad and they will only become better with a little bit of ‘polishing’. The team does lose out in the height domain but football is a game in which if you play well on your day, you can come out as winners.”

Anadi’s view on increasing competitive exposure for female footballers in India was pretty clear.

Need an I-League for women

He commented, “The men team comprises of professional players playing for clubs like East Bengal, Mohun Bagan etc. They play in a lot of tournaments such as the I-League, the Federation Cup, the Durand Cup and play at least 50 matches every year, whereas there is no such league for the Indian girls to compete in at the national level. Instead, they play in the league within their states such as the Manipur League, Bihar League and Orissa League. Sometimes, there are inter-state tournaments held for the girls’ football teams. Apart from that, they don’t get to play much. I request the AIFF to introduce an I-League and organize more and more matches for the women’s team.”

“One of the biggest steps that the AIFF has taken is introducing football at the grass root level for the girls. There are national tournaments held for girls in the categories of Under-13, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 with the recent Under-13 tournament being held in Tamil Nadu,” he added.

When asked about the interest in football amongst Indian women, Barua told Goal.com, “I’ve been doing selections for Subroto Cup since the past ten years which take place in Delhi. There were around 15-to-16 teams that came to participate along with teams from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Russia this year. The awareness among the girls is gradually increasing and they are not afraid to step forward and compete in major tournaments like the Subroto Mukherjee Cup. More such tournaments should take place in India exclusively for the girls so they can come ahead and showcase their talent.”

“India is one of the most populous countries in the world. We shouldn’t have just one national team, we should have three. This is required if India wants to succeed at the International level. Japan became the first Asian team to lift the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany in 2011 which is a big deal for all the Asian countries and we all should learn something from them,” he continued.

Barua explained that the girls are also educated on the tactical side of the game so as to make them aware of their duties. He informed saying, “If there’s no training camp, the girls play in their states along with the boys. But football is a team game, it’s about coordinating with your own team. We hold training camps prior to the matches; the duration of the camp depends on the type of game we are going to play. This helps the players adjust to the team and the atmosphere. We also coach them about fitness, techniques and tactical aspects of the game.”

"Whenever we raise the Indian flag up high and sing the national anthem, the blood rushes through our veins and we remember that we represent the entire country and we need to do something for the nation and make them proud. We strive to do much better,” said a proud Barua.

He continued, “Football in general is picking up in India due to increasing awareness. A healthy football culture is on the rise among our youngsters, like in Brazil. Kids in Manipur want to play only football; they choose it over even food (laughs). The parents are also slowly realizing their responsibilities and are very supportive.”

“There are a lot of tournaments coming up for us. We might have tournaments with other national teams and might have to travel to China in the near future. The AIFF will soon release a calendar only after which we’ll come to know,” Barua said on future plans.

 

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