India host the U-17 World Cup in 2017, in the first of its kind seen in the country and Wim Koevermans was asked about how the preparation was going. He said the inspection has been conducted by FIFA in February and their recommendations would be sent soon.
“The preparations are ongoing. I'm not directly involved with that but there’s been a check of the stadiums - They (FIFA’s competition committee) visited. There will be reports about what has to be improved. Everybody is very happy that we can have a World Cup for young kids. To have it in India is great.”
“Well its (hosting the U-17 World Cup) a good thing. I think whatever development that has to be done for 2017 should not stop after that so we will have a big event in 2017. It’s a really big tournament with the superstars of the future and so if that is huge magnet for football, if it brings a lot of kids to football, it should not stop after the World Cup.
“There should be a big spinoff after the World Cup so we can still improve football in a big way,” opined the India coach.
The Asian Games take place in South Korea in September later this year and the Dutchman said he had analyzed the players and hopeful that India can put up a good show.
“We we will have a good preparation programme for the U-23’s. A lot of the boys play in the I-League so that’s good. I see a lot of I-League games. We know the players. We recently had an U-22 camp (in Bangalore) where we saw a lot of players. We have time till the end of April to see what players we’ll put on the list for the tournament.”
India had planned an exposure trip for the team to Turkey but it seems to have fallen through. The coach however said that the team is still planning other foreign trips.
"Yes, there were the reports in the paper (about the Turkey trip). I cannot say. Hopefully there will a camp outside India. I don’t think it will be Turkey.”
Koevermans wants two exposure trips for the side where they train against high quality opposition.
“But the thing is we have to play good quality oppositions matches. So we will start building up the team in India for a couple of weeks and then hopefully we’ll have an exposure trip. Hopefully we can organize it. There we play good opposition that we need.
“Then we come back to India and then go back abroad again for a final exposure trip before the Asian Games start so hopefully we can perform in that programme and then we’ll have a good preparation.”
Would the younger players those from the under 17 and 19 age groups were also being looked at for the Asian Games?
'It is U-23 so we can also have younger boys in that age group but I’ll have to see because the difference in age cannot be too big. But if there are talented boys, and a few U-22 players, some play in the I-League as well then we will take them as it is good to give them experience.”
The Pailan Arrows team based in Kolkata with an aim of nurturing youth was disbanded at the start of the season. He expressed his disappointment some of those players were without a club.
“A lot of the young Pailan Arrow boys play in the I-League now. I think the whole Pailan Arrows philosophy was good, to have a young team in the I-League because a lot of them are now with professional clubs in the I-League. But there are a few boys, because Pailan Arrows stopped and because some clubs didn’t sign them, a lot of players were without a club and still are and that’s something that’s not good.”
The former High Performance Director with the Irish FA is in Mumbai to oversee the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) ‘B’ coaching license.
“The First Pro (professional) coaching license ever was here about a year ago in July, so it’s good facilities here, now it’s the ‘B’ license. So I sometimes travel to some of the coaching courses to see what’s going on and I love to be involved for 2-to-4 days and it’s also an opportunity for me to talk to the tutors about what’s going on and to meet the coaches that will be here.
“For the future of Indian football, these guys are very important. They go through a license from a D-to-A, and they have to work on the development of football so it’s very important. So we have to put in a lot of energy to make sure our coaches are built to a good level and we are sure they work in the best possible way with the boys and girls so we have the best players. So coach education is also part of my job.”
When asked about how he would like to see youth development improve before the World Cup, he said that having good, trained coaches is extremely important to get the best out of players. He believes that camps like the one he was currently conducting in Mumbai became even more important in this regard.
“Well more kids should play football under the guidance of good coaches. More coaches at the youth level. That’s why the coaching programmes are so important.
“And the teams that are working right now, they need to have the best programme possible to make sure they can compete at the World Cup because the best teams in the world will be here and they’re really good teams.”
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