I was lucky to have Colm Toal as my coach: Brandon Fernandes
NEW DELHI: It was in the AFC U-19 Qualifiers in Tehran in 2011 when Brandon Fernandes first burst onto the scene under Head Coach Colm Joseph Toal. Since then, he has moved to South Africa and is the most talked about Indian youth footballer at the moment.
In an interview with AIFF, Brandon speaks about his experience and thanks Colm Toal for guiding him during his early days of his career. He also sheds light on being approached by many an Indian club, that he is being monitored by English clubs, the challenges of settling abroad and much more. EXCERPTS.
Where are you presently playing at the moment? Describe where your club plays and what sort of tours you undertake?
I’m presently playing in Cape Town under SRB-ASD for the SAFA 2 League and training with Africa Soccer Development (ASD). We do have a lot of exposure tours and had tours to Spain, Portugal, Belgium, etc. Besides providing exposure, the tours were intended to catch the attention of the scouts, as many as possible.
How much is this experience helping you?
The experience has been incredible. It has molded me into a better player, smoothened out the rough edges and has given me a tremendous boost to my confidence. I also need to mention that I have improved game speed – both technically and in originality.
How many goals did you score last season? How many were from free-kicks?
I played in 12 matches last season and managed to score 12 goals, four of which were from free-kicks. Free-kicks are a challenge which I cherish. Curling it past the wall and having enough power to beat the goalkeeper while getting the right dip is what I want to master.
You have been linked to English clubs in the past one-year. What’s the status?
My main focus is to play in Europe. It has always been my first priority. The intention of joining ASD was to make use of the opportunities that would come your way. But I have been on trials and have been told by ASD on areas I need to improve to take my game to the highest possible level. I have age on my side and am working hard with my staff in ASD who are helping me to start my professional career in Europe.
The best thing in ASD is that clubs are constantly monitoring you and I have been told that I am being monitored by two EPL clubs at the moment.
Do you have any plans of playing for an Indian club? Did any club contact you?
Yes, I’ve been contacted by numerous Indian Clubs but at the moment but focus stays to play elsewhere — in Europe. I repeat I have age on my side and there’s no harm in giving it a try. A player needs to gauge as to where he stands. Maybe in the future I will turn out for an Indian club.
How much difficult is it for an Indian footballer of your age to settle abroad?
Frankly it hasn’t been a piece of cake keeping in mind the differences in language, lifestyle, weather and being away from my family back home. I’m missing out on the messy naughty teenaged life a kid deserves. But at the end of it all, if this struggle gets me closer to my dream, I’d be the happiest one. There can be no gain without pain.
You represented India in the AFC U-19 Qualifiers in Tehran in 2011 under Colm Joseph Toal. How much did that experience help you?
Colm Joseph Toal has been an extraordinary coach. Training under him has been very helpful to me, the values of which I carry forward even today. He guided me into being a better footballer and had always given me a chance to express my quality. I owe a lot to him and was lucky to have him as my coach during my early days.
You have represented India in the AFC U-19 Qualifiers. What next?
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of India’s squad for the AFC U-19 Qualifiers in Tehran in 2011. We had a nice tournament and some close matches. I aim to carry it forward and wear the India senior blue someday soon. I need to earn it and will work hard for that.