Academies will shape the future: Raman Vijayan

Upender Singh

Bangalore’s KGF Academy coach Raman Vijayan needs no introduction. The former India International Striker holds the record of being the sole highest Indian goalscorer in the National Football League. Presently in Delhi for the 2ndDivision League, Vijayan spoke at length to regarding his new role as a Coach, the present scenario in Indian Football and much more. EXCERPTS:

How would you translate your journey from a Striker to a Coach?
I would say both have entirely different dimensions. While being a player you don’t have much responsibility; all you have to do is to concentrate on your game and give your 100 percent on the field. But as a Coach you have to look after so many aspects — it’s a very difficult and challenging job.

I feel more emphasis should be given to impart modern Coaching Techniques for Indian Coaches.

Bhaichung Bhutia who played alongside you is a player-cum-administrator for United Sikkim Football Club (USFC). What’s your take?
Bhaichung is a great ambassador of the game. I feel privileged that I played alongside with him in the National Team as well as at the club level. Judging by his ability, I’m confident he will be successful in his new endeavour. Bhaichung has always been a determined person.

Being a striker yourself, why do you think that foreign strikers are overshadowing local talent?
There are so many foreign recruits presently playing in India and I strongly believe they have helped in increasing the standard of the game. But at the same time, many an Indian talent goes waste as most of them sit out warming the bench.

Where do you see Indian Football heading towards?
There’s lot of buzz and activity going on at the grassroots. The All India Football Federation’s decision to launch the regional Academies and the Elite Academies is the best thing to have happened to Indian football in the recent past. The process of selection in the U-14 Football Fest in Kalyani and the BC Roy Trophy needs to be lauded. The Academies will shape the future.

You need to remember, a lot has changed for the Senior Team since our days. Nowadays, the players stay well, travel well and get so many International Matches to play. It wasn’t the case during our time.

Unlike in the past, there are not many star footballers from Southern India at present. What do you attribute it to?
Unlike Kolkata and Goa, most parts in South India don’t have a Professional League. There is no dearth of good players in the region but they need a platform to play.