A lot has to be done to improve the quality of football in India, says FC Goa coach Derrick Pereira (interview)

FC Goa coach Derrick Pereira said that the lack of football culture and long-term vision are two of the biggest factors hampering the growth of the sport in India. However, he added that after the emergence of the Indian Super League (ISL), the level of football in the country is rising, but it still has a long way to go to compete with top international teams.

Asked why like Indian Premier League ((PL) has created a platform for players, ISL has not done the same for footballers, speaking exclusively to IANS, Pereira said, “We need to focus on certain areas to improve and reach that level. We are way behind and I would say as IPL has done, the ISL is also doing. But we need to focus more on certain areas where we should develop better quality players. I would say we should expand our resources more in the areas where we can develop the quality.”

“Personally, I am happy that India is doing great in cricket and hockey. But we cannot say this about Indian football. But as far as ISL is concerned, now it is in the right direction. But as I said, still a lot has to be done to improve quality,” the coach told IANS.

The ISL, which was introduced in 2014, has been instrumental in the growth of football culture in India. The winner of the National Football League (NFL) trophy in 2006 with Mahindra United, Pereira spoke on the positive impact of the league and how it has been helping Indian football.

“Over the years, I feel the ISL has done remarkable work. Earlier in ISL, we had some big retired international names but now we have some good foreign players and coaches around. It has given an opportunity for Indian players to work closely with foreign players and coaches and get benefitted from their experiences. It helps Indian football. Yes, we need to do more, but as of now, I can say ISL has become more competitive now. The league is doing a lot of things which can be helpful for the new talents,” the 59-year-old coach said.

On the Covid-19 scare which forced the FC Goa squad to train indoors, the coach said the mental challenges that come with such situations carry more significance than the physical ones.

“It’s now becoming part and parcel of the team. We have to deal with it. Yes it can impact the performances of the players, but again we have to live with it,” the former Indian defender said.

Despite their not-so-good performance in the ISL, Pereira is still hopeful for a playoff berth in the league.

“I think there are possibilities and we believe in ourselves that we can still make it. We have to take it match-by-match; our aim is to perform well and get the maximum points and then look forward to what we need to do,” he signed off




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