Interview with Raju Yumnam: Churchill Brothers have changed foreign players too many times
Churchill Brothers are not doing well in the current I-League 2013/14 season. Unlike last season, when they became the champions, the ‘Red machine’ faces many problems now, the biggest of which is escaping relegation.
We caught up with Raju Yumnam to talk about why the team is struggling.
Raju, tell me about the current I-League. Is it organized? Is it competitive?
Yeah! Every club is so fully organised and competitive this year.
Churchill Brothers are the current Champions, but the team is fighting against relegation this season. What has happened to the team in this current season?
Yes, we are. But this season, I would say that foreigners make a lot of difference in the team. This season our team has changes foreigners so many times. We kept on changing the team and didn’t get a chance to settle down with the team.
Most of the foreigners players playing in India are from Brazil and Africa. What qualities do you appreciate and enjoy in those players?
Yeah! I enjoy playing with both and like them too. Both have good quality but different types of playing style.
In your opinion, what’s the best I-League team and the best football player in this current season?
I would say Bengaluru FC is the best team currently. They are well organised and have good team work. About the best player, Katsumi, a Japanese player playing for Mohun Bagan; he’s so quick, very skillful and is always working hard, so it really helps the team. He is really in form, I would say.
Do you think Baichung Bhutia is the best Indian footballer ever?
Yes, he still is. Everybody remembers him, especially his dedication to Indian football. He is an icon in Indian football history and every single player wants to become like him.
What part of the country has the most passionate football fans?
I talked to Rogerio Ramos in 2008, he played for Vasco from Goa and told me that Indian football fans are not so passionate. During games they don’t make a lot of noise inside the stadium and they prefer to watch the game without celebrating much. Do you agree?
Earlier there were some fans but not as much like these days though. They come wearing the team’s jersey, they cheer their team with chants and the fan following has also improved. Now it has totally changed and there are a lot of football fans in India.
Many people connected to football says that is difficult for Indian football players to get contracts with European teams because usually Indian players don’t have the ideal physical attributes – they are very thin and very different from the football elite. But Japan is competing with the best national teams of the world. What is your take on that?
Yeah! Earlier it was difficult, but now European football teams are also interested in Indian players. They have started calling Indian youngsters to join their training session at the academy. So, in the future there may be more chances, which I hope will come.
How do you analyse the Indian teams’ performances in the AFC Cup? Do they find it difficult to beat teams from other nations, Arab teams for example?
I think India teams are improving and doing well, giving good performances in the AFC Cup. They do find it a little difficult to beat opponents. They are strong contenders in Asia and they play good football too. But if we have done strong preparations mentally and physically then I think we can also beat them too. Yeah, it’s possible to beat them.
Many people connected to the football world say that is not good for Indian football to have an English football model because mentally and physically Indians and English are very different. What football school would be the ideal model for Indian football?
I don’t agree with that because they have good facilities, infrastructure and equipment that we don’t have. And that’s the difference between them and us. Physically, we too can be fit like they are, but we need good practice, good fields, good training equipment and the same facilities they have. For me, the Spanish football model would be ideal for us.