Dream project for coaches begin today

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Kolkata, Mar 10 (UNI) With Indian football standing at the crossroads of time, a British Council initiate gives 40 young coaches from West Bengal and North East a chance to learn the trade from some of the experts that English Premier League puts forth.

The British Council today launched an English Premier League initiative for three years for training 40 coaches in Kolkata scouted by Indian Football Association (IFA) over the last four months.

An EPL team comprising Kate Hodgkinson (Media Operations Coordinator and Project Manager for Premier Skills) and Warren Barton, an UEFA licence coach and former Wimbledon, Newcastle United and Derby County player and England international and ex-Wimbledon and Jamaican international Robbie Earl have come here on a week-long schedule as part of the programme.

Two coaches to assist them are Gareth Prosser, a qualified FA coach and Assistant Academy Manager for Derby County Football Club and Vic Bettinelli also a qualified FA coach and specialised goalkeeping coach for Fulham Football Club.

Barton and Kate had earlier come in October for a scoping visit and had expressed their happiness with the infrastructure and facilities provided by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Indian Football Association (IFA) and Sports Authority of India (SAI).

Detailing about the programme, Barton today said, ''We just finished about the programme in Egypt and it was a huge success. The plan is to select 40 coaches from each of the two regions and train them in three phases so that they can go back and serve football in their area of networking in a more fruitful manner.'' ''In the first part of the premier skills programme the young coaches would be given a chance to develop their skills through world class professional coaches. It will also be seen that they are encouraged to sustain the skill during the re-visits. The training would be a mix of class room teachings on physical, psychological and nutritional details along with on field training on leadership, skills and communication,'' he added.

''The training will be unfolded in phases over the next three years with the coaches left with skill books that they need to follow and fill. We will come back in six to seven months (October 2008) to take up the second phase and then again the third phase will commence after an year,'' he said.

''Our job is not to find the head coach for India. Its to build and infrastructure for football and manpower to lead the game in the country. It could also result in an exchange programme in the later phases,'' Robbie Earle added.

''We are trying to make a career for them. If these coaches from a system can be fed into the AIFF coaching list India could have a band of coaches with advanced coaching quality. We are not here to dictate but take the coaches into confidence and take the programme ahead,'' he said.

''We are also keeping a close eye on the cultural uniqueness of the programme as each region is unique to itself,'' Robbie added.

Kate, talking about the programme, said, ''We are happy with the facility and we hope the programme will be a huge success. After Egypt and India, the EPL was looking at China. Zaire and Tanzania were also under consideration.'' While the Delhi series kick started from February four to nine, Kolkata five-day session begins today.

The IFA and SAI had selected 40 coaches from West Bengal and NE States for the premier skills. Speaking on the occasion IFA Secretary Utpal Ganguly said, ''The intense session will certainly bring a big difference in coaching, infrastructure and referring.'' UNI BA PP AB KN1719

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