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Scouting in football – A crucial cog in the wheel of the game

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1.39K   //    20 Jul 2013, 17:57 IST
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Using veteran international footballers to spot young talent would be a step in the right direction for Indian football

It’s really fascinating to watch programs like ‘India’s Got Talent’, ‘Dance India Dance’ or a singing competition ‘Saregama’ for children on television. Their auditions at several centres in India give an opportunity to all and sundry. Even the poor in remote areas can showcase their talent. Talent without opportunity is like electricity without an electric bulb.

Let’s apply this concept to the game of football in India. Are there enough opportunities to all, specially those in the far flung areas which are very often neglected? Are the selections at all levels, fair and square?

Selections at the grassroots are very crucial not only to improve the standard of the game but for its very survival.  Do we have a proper scouting system in place to hunt for the real talent? These questions require immediate answers if we are to progress and improve our standard to international level.

FIFA’s grassroots initiative in various countries is very commendable. Today with easy access to the net, it is not difficult to know what’s happening in other parts of the world. ‘Catch them young and watch them grow’ is the mantra for success. I would rephrase the same and say, ‘catch the right young and watch them grow’. The key here is to appoint the right scout to get the right talent.

In Goa, there are two government residential training centres in football- Sports Authority of Goa at Panaji  and Sports Authority of India at Ponda. Government provides all the facilities which include boarding, diet and schooling to name a few. How many footballers have actually made it big after training in these centres?

The answers would actually question the very existence of these centres. I can say with confidence that the fault lies not in the centres but with the selections.  Even Sesa Goa Academy has not been able to deliver. They too must appoint the right scouts to get the best in the academy.

We all agree that sports should be managed by sportsmen themselves. At times we may not get a proper candidate capable enough to run the administrative side of the sports organization, but can’t we utilize the services of all the former sportsmen to scout and train the youngsters at the grassroots?

In Goa we have several former footballers who have now retired and are available to serve the game. Those willing and fit could be employed by Goa Football Development Council (GDFC), a government initiative or Goa Football Association (GFA) to do the most important job of talent hunt, either in their own village or in the surrounding areas.

GDFC has done an excellent job in opening training centres at the grassroots in remote places of Goa. They could officially appoint these veteran players as ambassadors and role models for the training centres. The young coaches at the training centres would also get to know the finer nuances of the game from these experienced footballers.

For most Indians, a sportsman out of sight is out of mind. We fail to give them their due once they are past their prime. Employing them as scouts and appointing them as ‘ambassadors’ at the local training centres could be one way in honouring and acknowledging the yeoman service done by the veteran footballers. This could also apply to other games too.

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Goans, they say, take to football as fish takes to water. I am no exception, having played the game right from school level in Goa, to the highest level in the country. I had the opportunity to represent India when the team from Sao Paulo,Brazil played an exhibition match at Nehru Stadium, Delhi in 1989. I was also selected to play for India XI versus the Sao Paulo Club, Brazil in 1984 at Mumbai and a year before I was selected as a reserve player of the India team in 1983 that played the President Gold Cup at Bangladesh.
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