#BehindTheGame: In Conversation With Grassroots Coach– Allain D’Costa
We go behind the dugout to find out more about the people working off the pitch and their influence on the beautiful game.
Allain D’Costa is in charge of two of our grassroots centres: Assumpta Convent and St. Joseph High School. These two schools did exceedingly well in the recently concluded U-10 tournament and impressed everyone by playing exceptionally. We catch up with this young coach to know more about his style of coaching, and what motivated him to nurture fresh talent.
What made you take up coaching?
I always loved football and started playing in my teens – first for Goa United in Calangute and then for Churchill Brothers. Unfortunately, I suffered an injury and that cut my playing career short. That’s when I had the realisation that if I can’t fulfil my dream, I may be able to help someone else achieve theirs and be happy in that knowledge.
Do you identify with a particular playing philosophy?
I like my team to keep possession of the ball whether we’re winning or losing. This enables the team to attack and defend well. During transitions, I like my teams to press high and recover the ball quickly. I like the way Pep Guardiola plays and try to emulate his style of football.
What’s your coaching dream?
I have no interest in training professional players. I want to work with the youth, especially at grassroot levels. During my time as a kid, we never had full-time coaches to train us to teach us basic footballing techniques. So my goal is to develop football at ground level and be a part of this changing football landscape.
What do you think of the current coaching level in grassroot football?
The training methods are getting modernized, but we still have a long way to go in acquiring requisite modern facilities. FC Goa is working well to providing basic facilities and that’s a big first step. There are a lot of kids who cannot afford two meals a day but at FC Goa grassroots program they get refreshments and snacks. We even provide training kits and sometimes shoes if the kids cannot afford them.
When you coach kids, what quality do you try to focus on the most?
I don’t push them too hard, but I try to get them to focus on their technique. I want them to concentrate on their touch, their passing, and dribbling. I don’t focus too much on stamina or strength. That can be built at a later stage.
What’s your favourite formation?
My preferred formation is a 4-1-4-1 with a holding midfielder. Of course it also depends on the opponent’s formation and strengths but I try to neutralize their key attacking player with one midfielder.
What is the current standard of kids in our youth set up?
The current batch of kids in our grassroots program is of a very good standard. Some of them – with the right focus and training at the later stages – could go on and represent the national side. But it all depends on how much they are willing to concentrate on the game, obviously.