Stephen Constantine says a strategic plan is in place for Indian Football
Speak to any Coach and he will always maintain that his support staff forms the spine of his team. National Coach Stephen Constantine was asked by AIFF in detail about his support staff, their value addition to the team, the philosophy behind roping them in, the AIFF Strategic Plan and much more.
How much value addition does the support staff offer to a Coach?
A Coach is as good as the people around him. There are many components that make up the backroom staff of any National Team or club. They are vital to the success which you can achieve as a Coach.
Will Lee Johnson act only as your Assistant Coach?
Besides being my Assistant, Lee has also been brought in to head the U-19s and to assist with the scouting. As assignments of the National Team simultaneously clash with the U-19 National squad in the near future, Lee may not always be available for the Senior Team assignment for some matches.
There are talks of Lee Johnson being a Community Coach.
I have worked with Lee for the last couple of years. He started out as a Community Coach with Crystal Palace at the age of 19. After spending a couple of years there, he was eventually offered a position in the Academy. Academy jobs in the UK are full-time positions and competition for these places is fierce.
Afterwards, Chelsea sort of poached him from Palace and then Lee spent five years working with some of Chelsea’s best young players. In fact, recently, Ruben Loftus Cheek, one of the players he coached represented Chelsea in the EPL.
How much value addition does Lee add?
While I think we have some good coaches in India, I feel the experience of working with age-groups at the level that Lee has worked at, offers us a great deal as does Nicolai Adam at the U-17 level.
Bringing a dedicated Youth Team Coach with 11 years of experience both in the Community and Academy level is priceless and adds more value to AIFF’s GR Programmes and the YDP.
He was also with me in Rwanda where he was the U-17 National Team Coach as well as the National Technical Director. He is a first class Coach and will benefit Indian Football.
You always stress on Sports Science. How much of that have you implemented in your schedule?
Danny Deigan, one of my other support staff is a sports scientist who has worked in the National Institute for Sports in Australia which is renowned for their discipline, commitment and excellence in the field of Sports Science.
In order to get to the level that he has attained requires hard work and dedication and the highest of qualifications in his field. A Sports Scientist is much more than a Fitness Coach and while we do have Fitness Coaches in India there are not too many Sports Scientists around.
What is he responsible for?
Apart from the physical aspects, Danny is also responsible for diet, individual programmes, periodization programmes, strength and conditioning as well as monitoring Player’s progress on and off the pitch. It so happens that we have acquired somebody who is young, energetic and willing to do anything to help our National Teams.
Has he been appointed only for the National Team?
Even though he and Rogerio Ramos, the Goalkeeping Coach are the backroom staff for the National Team they have willingly agreed to work with any and all of our age group Teams in order to help and develop the National Team Players.
I don’t know about any other National Coach who firstly would ask his backroom staff to work with the U-19s and I am not sure how many would agree to do it. But in this case, both have agreed to do so. It’s the optimal utilisation of resources.
But why do they need to work with the U-19 team?
I felt that if Danny, Ramos and Lee worked with the U-19s, it would prepare them better for the eventual step up to the U-23s and hopefully Senior National Teams.
There needs to be continuity both in philosophy, training and game play. This can only be achieved by having people who are familiar with the process from top to bottom. What the U-19s do would be a mirror image of what they do with the Senior Team. This makes the step up of junior players to the Senior Team that much quicker.
Only on the opening day of this season’s EPL, West Ham United fielded a 16-year old (Reece Oxford) playing in the first team. This would not have been possible if the West Ham Youth Academy had a different philosophy and idea and training habits than the Senior Team. The idea is to stitch all together in one thread.
That’s a unique vision for Indian Football.
A vision had already been created through the Strategic Plan and I have sent in my recommendations for a better implementation. Of course, I have to thank both Mr. Praful Patel and Mr. Kushal Das for their belief in my choices and the belief in my vision to take Indian Football forward. This is not about any one person, it’s about the Team. They too add to my support staff.
What is Ramos’ role?
Rogerio is well known to the Indian Football scene having spent so many years here. I have worked with him for the last 13 years both in Europe and in Africa. His understanding of the position, the qualities required and the specific traits that we require for the development of Goalkeepers is second to none.
Furthermore, his qualification acquired from Brazil has been recognized both by UEFA and CAF.