'Football grassroots development requires time & unified effort'
New Delhi: Indian football experts have been stressing on the fact that the sport in the country is not getting anywhere unless the current shoddy structure is revamped for a football eco-system which starts with nurturing players from a nascent age of 6-7 years.
Despite all those suggestion and intentions, Delhi Dynamos's head coach of elite football teams Francisco Perez feels it's easier said than done.
Citing example from the established football youth structure in place back in his country Spain, the 30-year-old coach said: "Clubs such as FC Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao started their academies in the early 80's and it bears its fruits only in the 90's when several players from the youth system walked into the senior team. Grassroots level project doesn't mean you push a player to the senior team after just one season with the junior team. It is a long-term project."
In India, however, Fran – as his players call him – feels the entire community needs to work in unison to develop football in the region.
"At the moment the biggest challenge in India is to bring every component that is school, federation under one umbrella. Young players are not getting that yet. A player often plays under one coach at the school and for another at the club and then for another coach in the district level competition. That's not the way to nurture a player," he explained.
Delhi Dynamos is currently scouting players at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for under-15 age group onwards. Fran, a UEFA licensed professional coach, said the grassroots development project is at its nascent stage now and needs time for honing to grow into a full-fledged youth system.
"We are starting from the scratch here. We have to take one step at a time. Scouting talented players from the region, providing them proper infrastructure and competitive experience at this stage is really going to help the club in the longer run. It gives an opportunity to set a benchmark. We are currently working at the under-16 level. Slowly we want to start working on teams of smaller age group. All this over a period of 5-10 years leads to a establish youth system," he concluded.