Former Indian football team head coach Stephen Constantine has said India needs to focus a lot more on a coach’s education in order to produce better footballing talent.
Constantine, who was the head coach of the Indian football team in two spells between 2002 and 2005 and 2015 and 2019, saw plenty of changes happening in Indian football on multiple levels with the launch of the ISL, and also the increase in the number of licensed coaches.
However, the former coach believes Indian football needs more than coaching licenses to produce quality managers. “My feeling is that India does not pay enough attention to coach education and for sure needs to produce better quality coaches,” Constantine told Outlook.
“If the young players are not taught the basic principles, how are they going to be able to perform at the international level? I feel that while India may have a lot of ‘A’ licensed coaches, in reality, the administrators need to focus on quality rather than quantity,” he added.
India has 14 Pro License coaches and over 5,000 licensed coaches, a number that has seen a significant increase in recent times. But qualified higher licensed coaches are often not appointed at the youth level where the need of a coach is maximum.
“The process doesn’t stop once you have the ‘A’ or ‘Pro’ licensed coaches. You need to continue to develop, evolve, and learn. I would like to see overseas trips to European countries where the coaches can see how things work and the detail that goes into being a coach,” he said.
“There is so much more to it than getting a license. It is way too easy for people to get licenses and that is part of the problem,” he added.
Constantine welcomed the 3+1 foreign player rule that will come into effect in the ISL since the 2021-’22 campaign, thus helping Indian players get more playing opportunities.
“The biggest issue for me though was some foreign players would come in and have very poor attitudes, and of course, there are too many of them,” Constantine said.
“Indian players would then suffer as coaches would play the foreigner in his preferred position and stick the Indian player anywhere thus preventing them from playing in their natural positions.
“So at times, you would see our Indian forward playing left-back or centre midfield to accommodate the foreign player and of course that hurt the development of the Indian player. I understand that this issue has been resolved, and it is now three foreigners and one Asian player. It should have been like that from day one,” he added.
The Anglo-Cypriot coach though felt foreign coaches have been a big credit to Indian football and have helped young Indian players in the ISL.
“The arrival of foreign coaches has been advantageous for the players. The coaches have good knowledge and experience. They also try to help the Indian players,” he said.
Indian football team returns to action as the pending 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign gets underway. The ISL is set to begin in November with the competition set to be hosted at one or two venues.