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Rob Baan: Regional Academies will shape the future

Against the backdrop of the Under-22 India trials for the qualifiers of the 2013 AFC Under-22 Asian Cup being held in Pailan World School, Kolkata; two of the most significant technical personalities for football in India - AIFF Technical Director Rob ...

Against the backdrop of the Under-22 India trials for the qualifiers of the 2013 AFC Under-22 Asian Cup being held in Pailan World School, Kolkata; two of the most significant technical personalities in Indian football – AIFF Technical Director Rob Baan and Head Coach Youth Development Colm Joseph Toal came together to speak from the dais at a press meet yesterday.

The duo are currently at Pailan World School to conduct trials and select 30 boys for the preparatory camp, which would be held prior to the qualifying phase which is scheduled from June 23. 68 boys, including those from the AIFF’s Youth Development Team, Pailan Arrows, are attending the trials.

Baan thanked Pailan Group chairman Apurba Saha for his support and hospitality during the camp, a view which was endorsed by Toal. Saha, who was also present on the occasion added, “It’s an honour for me that the U-22 National Trials are being held in Pailan and the Regional Academy would be coming up at our campus.”

“The U-22 Asian Cup is an important tournament for us,” Baan opined. “We have been clubbed in a tough group but it gives the boys an opportunity to play five quality games. We need to remember that not all among this bunch of boys get a chance to play competitive football in the I-League.”

“With the right kind of physical conditioning, we will be competitive in the tournament,” Baan stressed. India who have been drawn with Oman, Iraq, UAE, Lebanon and Turkmenistan in Group A, play Lebanon in their first match on June 23.

“The forthcoming Regional Academies which are being set-up are very significant,” Baan maintained. “One needs to remember we won’t deal with U-16 boys in the Academies; rather we are focusing on U-14 boys. They stay a step in the right direction and will shape the future. The I-League clubs need to follow the model.”

Toal, who has been in charge of AIFF’s Youth Development Programme for the last five years said, “Someone of Mr. Rob Baan’s stature joining as the Technical Director is one of the most positive developments in Indian football. His experience will help us in the long run,” Colm felt.

“Even at the moment when we are dealing with a specific set of boys, there’s always a vacuum underneath. That’s where the clubs need to take more responsibilities,” Colm maintained.

“Education for Coaches is imperative. They need to stay updated on a regular basis. Grooming tender kids is an entirely different proposition,” Baan went on. “The sport needs to popularised in the schools. The facilities in the schools seem to be better than other places. Hence, we have engaged a lot of schools for our forthcoming Academies.”

Baan insisted on focussing on the Grassroots. “It all needs to start form the Grassroots. Only then will the sport be popularised all over the country.”

The two gentleman have a tough task on them to develop young Indian football talent.

Published with permission from Arunava Chaudhuri.

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