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Koevermans wants teams to focus on youth development while re-iterating players only participating in the IMG-R tournament will find having an international career difficult...

Wim Koevermans stressed the importance of national team players getting regular football action once again as he wishes the embargo on the players associated with IMG-Reliance’s tournament would be lifted by the I-League clubs.

He then managed to land himself in pot-boiling water when he criticized the implementation of IPL-like tournament suggested forth by the commercial partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), IMG-Reliance, a model his employers had backed all along.

Now Koevermans, in a free-wheeling interview with the New Indian Express, has managed to explain key points which has backed his stance and also hopes for the betterment of the national league.

“If players are without clubs, then that is a problem to me. Right now, there is a big group of players who are not attached to clubs. They are all without real competition and without challenging training session. If they play only in the IMG-Reliance tournament, that is a-half-an-year without proper competition and every international player needs proper competition every week and challenging training sessions every day,” opined the Dutchman on the serious issue of player selection for international tournaments.

Mincing no words, the coach believes that all players involved in the IMG-Reliance backed tournament, are effectively pulling the curtains of uncertainty down on their international careers. “I do feel sorry for them. But I have to see them every week and for that, they have to play every week. If they cannot, they won’t be in the team. For their sake, I hope this situation between the clubs and IMG-Reliance gets resolved soon.”

Koevermans finds no reason why his style of play, similar to Spain’s, won’t bring him success despite the fact that India has been poor in his reign winning only the Nehru Cup and failing to even make it into the Challenge Cup, let alone qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup.

“We showed during the Nehru Cup that we can keep the ball. We have talented youngsters in the country who can do that. Even at the youth level, we have to ensure that our kids learn to keep the ball. Other nations are developing that way and we cannot afford to stand still.”

“There is hardly anything done at the grassroots level these days and we have to change that. If you give good guidance to our kids and teach them to play proper football, then they can be very good. If it can work elsewhere in the world, then why not here?” asked the coach, enthusiastically.

Duty before all else seems to be the Dutch coach’s motto and with regard to safeguarding his team’s performances and the future of Indian football, this seems even more true. “The national team is obviously my top priority, but it is not the only one. Before I leave, I hope to achieve three things – create a larger pool of international players, develop a number of top quality coaches and strengthen the I-League.”

“We are already well on our way to achieving the first goal and we have brought in a number of youngsters in to the national team over the last couple of years. International football is totally different from the club level and we need to have a group who knows what it is like to play at that level. Developing coaches is also very important as we have to train them to teach our footballers to play in a certain way,” elucidated the Dutchman.

He hopes that clubs take steps to counter the growing influence of foreign players while tapping the potential of youth in a country like India.

“Without naming anyone, there are a lot of foreign players who are average. If the player you bring in is special and capable of taking the I-League to another level, then it is good. But if he is only as good as the rest, then the clubs should give an Indian youngster a chance.”

Finally concluding his revealing interview he emphasised the development of the clubs as a whole entity, lucidly implying his role in the greater gist of the matter.

“I am on the I-League licensing committee and visited the clubs recently to see how far they were in complying to the AFC criteria. There is still a long way to go. But I rely on quality players and quality players can only be developed in a quality league,” tendered Koevermans in his conclusion.


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