#BehindTheGame – Tête-à-Tête With Grassroots Coach Rupesh Madkar
The Under-10 league was created in 2016 to further FC Goa’s endeavour to find a pool of young, local talent, in order to contribute to the sport domestically and internationally. The Under-10 league, better known as the Junior Gaurs League, has garnered a lot of support from parents and players alike. Football coaches now have their hands full training these kids in an attempt to find and groom players.
On our second visit to the grassroots centres in Mapusa, we met Mr. Rupesh Madkar, a coach at the Mapusa centre. Here’s the transcript of a brief chat with the coach:
Q: What do you hope to achieve from the grassroots programme?
A: This is an excellent initiative, essential for introducing children to football culture at an early age, and below 10 is the ideal age to start this process. These tournaments provide the exposure children need to suss out their competition, and also to keep them motivated. Additionally, it will give them a lot of knowledge about the game and help develop their skill set further. It is critical is to keep parents interested, too, so that they encourage their children, which is what this programme hopes to also accomplish.
Q: How are you looking at enhancing a kid’s talent?
A: At this age, we can’t really say whether or not the kid will become a professional in the future. It is our job, however, to introduce them to professional technique early. After the age of 12, their tactical awareness improves. We give them coordination exercises and make sure they’re having fun. We just want to introduce them to football in hopes that their love for the game grows.
Q: What is your coaching philosophy?
A: My philosophy is mostly player-oriented. I ask my players a lot of questions. I don’t instruct them to kick the ball around haphazardly. Instead, I prefer to ask them why they did certain things and explain the merits or otherwise of doing such a thing on the field. On the field, however, it’s a different story. I cannot keep guiding kids constantly. If I keep telling them things, they’re going to want direction every time they receive the ball on field. It’s important they learn to make their own decisions when playing the game. My duty is to simply prepare them for the same off-field. Play and learn, that’s my thing.
Q: Who would you like to emulate on an international level?
A: Sir Alex Fergusson. He had the presence and know-how. Most of his protégés are now coaches elsewhere.
Q: We had a chat previously with your contemporary Naresh Virnodkar who emphasised greatly on the importance of more play time for players. Do you agree?
A: First and foremost, we need good coaches who really know the game. More coaches need to be educated and cross-skilled to enable a holistic approach to training. Infrastructure is also very important, but for me coaches and the education system are in need of immediate attention right now.
With interest in the sport increasing exponentially, it is no surprise to see youngsters flock to football fields. FC Goa is looking to exploit this interest and help more kids develop their skill through this very programme in years to come.