You need to strike a balance between fitness and fun: Derrick

Debayan Mukherjee

For a football buff, off-season is not the best time of the year. But the case is just the opposite for a Footballer. It is that time of the year when he or she can afford to look beyond the horizon. But at the same time, one needs to stay fit. In a freewheeling interview to Salgaocar SC Coach Derrick Pereira speaks on striking a balance between staying fit, enjoying the break, the dos and don’ts, his new job at Salgaocar SC and much more. EXCERPTS:

What should a Player plan the off-season?
A player should spend quality time with his Family and Friends. That is very important. They stay away from the Family for a considerable period of the year and need to catch up. But at the same time, one needs to remember that he is an athlete. He cannot put on a lot of weight and return to pre-season unfit. As a player, it is his duty to work out regularly and strike a balance between enjoyment, which I reiterate is necessary, and staying fit for the upcoming season.

I advice players not to engage themselves in intra-village Tournaments like they have it in Goa and seven-a-side Competitions called ‘Sevens’ in Kerala.

Why do you advice them to stay away from playing?
Professional Footballers play Football throughout the year. The body needs rest. The off-season is the time when Players should be engaging themselves in sporting activities other than their trade. I think they should play non-body contact games like Table Tennis, Badminton, and, maybe, a few fun games too. Playing Football with friends is fine too. As a Footballer, you cannot stay away from the game for a long time, but not in Tournaments which I mentioned earlier.

How should a Player plan his off-season?
It’s best to spend time with family and friends, go on a vacation. A Player should enjoy the off-season to the fullest so that he comes back fresh and raring to go for pre-season. But as I said earlier, that balance between fun and fitness is important. It’s your duty to stay fit as an athlete.

How should a player balance his time table at a time when he is not obliged to play?
Suppose a player has gone abroad for a vacation; there, he needs to find time and workout for at least 45 minutes twice or thrice a week. Non-body contact sports are also advisable. He must take care of himself and not get injured. The onus here is completely on the Player and how serious he is as a Footballer. You need to be a responsible Footballer.

What are the consequences of staying totally away from Football during off-season? Can you cite examples?
I remember going abroad for a vacation once during my playing days. I put on a lot of weight at that time and in Pre-season, I discovered the going was tough. We did not have Coaches guiding us what to do and what not during those days. But nowadays Coaches and Physiotherapists make it a point to prepare a Programme for the Players.

How do you look forward to your new journey with Salgaocar SC?
I donned the Salgaocar colours for 18 years from 1980 to 1999. In between, I played in Mumbai for a year, back in 1984. The transition from a Player to a Coach has led to me parting ways with Salgaocar but I always wanted to come back. I want to do something for Salgaocar – my heart beats for the Club. It’s a long association.

Throw some light on the importance of sticking to one club for a considerable period of time?
I believe in long term plans. As a Coach, you need to understand the Club Culture, study its history and work with the Players. It takes time. Success does not come fast.

When I joined Salgaocar at the age of 17, my Coach Shanmugam was working with young players like me. It took him four years to build the team and taste success. If you look back and analyse, even at Pune FC it was very much the same. We finally finished second in the I-League this season after four years of hard work.

What should a Coach do during off-season?
A Coach’s job is not over with the end of the season. He is still recruiting players and planning for the pre-season. Once a Coach is done with that, he can plan a vacation and spend quality time with his family.