Luis Norton de Matos, the India Under-17 coach, opines that the county needs more competitions for age group teams in order for them to progress and develop.
The biggest difference between the Indian team and the others participating in the Under-17 World Cup is that while the former has been playing practice games for the last two years or so, the latter have a lot of competitive action at club level under their belt.
“I think it's a gift for Indian football to have this World Cup. The Indians must be proud of the quality of this team in India. After the World Cup, all these players will be new for the people but they must continue. This World Cup should be the first step to grow football in India. There should be regular competitions at U-13 and U-16 levels across the nation,” he told Goal.
“I don't believe that we cannot find a lot of good players in the whole country and such competitions can reveal them,” he added.
Norton pointed that it’s vital to scout and train the players as per the profile for each position which must be consistent across all national teams, something which India coach Stephen Constantine too mentioned a few months back.
The idea being that there is a smooth progression from scouting to training in age group teams to the senior national side.
“When the player is of 10 years, you have more time to build a uniform programme for him across all the teams, who would work in the same way starting from the grassroots. What we do now must have some benefit for the future.”
He admitted that even though he didn’t have enough time with the India Under-17 side, seven months to be precise, the team certainly lacks in match experience.
“Even these (India U-17 World Cup squad) players have good experience in Europe and other countries, which is very good but I must say that it is better than nothing. From the time I took over the team in March and now, the tactical and physical organization is completely different.
“It is still not enough time of working with experience but I accept the conditions and it's very important to continue with this programme after the World Cup. I hear about the possibility of these players with a mix of U-19 players to play in the I-League. I think it's good. This generation of U-19, U-17 and U-15 boys in four years for me is the basis of the senior team eventually,” he mentioned.
The former Benfica ‘B’ coach believes that India needs to have a long term target with regards to what they wish to achieve. According to him, targeting a strong finish in Asian competitions in something which must be th immediate aim
“The first competition India should be interested in should be at the Asian level. Don't think that you can play the quality of Spain or Brazil (right away). I am very positive but I'm also being realistic that there is a huge gap.
“In Asia, if you have a good programme, you can start. If you want to win now or in five-to-six years - this is the main question for the development of football - to understand what you want for the future.”