Role of coaches crucial to keep players motivated without fans when season resumes: La Liga India Schools Technical director
La Liga India Schools Technical Director Javier Cabrera believes that the coaches will have a tricky task ahead of them to keep the players psychologically motivated with no fans present at the stadiums as per social distancing guidelines.Updated: May 30, 2020 15:36 IST
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has given a green light to the start of sporting events in the country, and the top-tier football competition, La Liga is set to resume from June 11th. It will be after a wait of three months that the football competition will begin and La Liga India Schools Technical Director Javier Cabrera believes that the coaches will have a tricky task ahead of them to keep the players psychologically motivated with no fans present at the stadiums as per social distancing guidelines.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Cabrera, who previously worked at the Barcelona Academy in Northern Virginia, USA, said: “For teams who are playing to avoid relegation, or to be promoted, or to qualify for European tournaments - they have a lot to play in the remaining games, apart from the teams vying to win the tournament.”
“The players have a habit of playing with 50,000 fans supporting them. And suddenly, you have to play with no one in the ground. Here, the psychological advice and the motivation from the side of the coach to players is going to be huge and crucial,” he further said.
“The role of the coach is going to be crucial to motivate players to play La Liga amid closed doors when the season resumes. They have to tell their players that there will be no audience, and still they have to perform 100 percent anyway. I am eager to see how this will happen,” Cabrera added.
Cabrera also believes the five-substitutions rule implemented by Bundesliga is the way to go forward in these unprecedented times, as the players will have to play back-to-back matches to finish the season on schedule. According to a report from Sky Sports, the remainder of the La Liga games are expected to be played every day up to the end of the season on July 19.
“The five substitutions rule would be a very constructive rule when La Liga restarts. Because the clubs have to play about 11 games in about 5 weeks,” he said.
La Liga India school online classes
Meanwhile, the La Liga school in New Delhi had to close down amid the coronavirus pandemic. So, Cabrera and his team started conducting online training with kids from age groups of 6-18. Around 25 kids have been a part of the online training in the last six to seven weeks.
“We have 3-5 coaches in every one-hour long session, which are divided into four parts: warm-up, in which we try to teach them joint mobility and get them ready for the session. The second part is co-ordination and agility skills. Then we try to teach football technical skills, and the last 10 minutes are cool down, where we stretch and then give them some feedback about the session,” Cabrera explains.
“We also give them some information on La Liga clubs and then give them some homework about clubs,” he adds.
Discussions on mental health amid these difficult times have become a conversation among athletes, and Cabrera adds that he tries to inculcate a positive mindset in his students.
“Yeah, we try to tell our kids, that they need to be patient. Because kids want to go out and play with everyone. We tell them that they have to stay at home. When they are with us, they must follow our program, to be fit, happy, and healthy. But when they are not with us, they must not focus too much on screens, laptops, play stations, mobiles - and start doing other activities, like cooking, household chores, or read a book,” he said.
On Indian football
Cabrera has been in India for over seven years, and he says the football structure in India has vastly improved in that time. “I can honestly say, the improvement from seven years ago till now in Indian football is vast. Today, almost every academy or club can play official matches, in any state. It was not something possible when I had arrived,” he said.
“I was at Sporting Club de Goa in the beginning as Head of Development and the only category we could play was U-20. There was no U-18, U-16, U-12, which we have now. The most important we have now is the baby leagues, which is the best initiative the federation has started since I have arrived here,” he added.
Cabrera also believes that he has seen a lot of improvement in Indian football coaches and said that they should be given more opportunities to be a part of ISL clubs.
When the ISL was started in 2014, the Indian coaches were not allowed to take charge of the clubs. Over the years, there have been a few Indian coaches who have taken the position as interim managers. But in 2020, ISL has approved the appointment of Indian coaches to manage clubs on a full-time basis provided they have Pro Coaching license. Cabrera sees it as a welcoming move.
“I never understood the rule that ISL would not allow Indian coaches to manage teams. It was absolutely nonsense. The ISL is supposed to develop Indian football - but the first thing they do is - you are an Indian, you cannot coach,” he said.
“Now, they will allow Indian coaches to manage ISL teams, and I think that it is great news for Indian football. I hope we get to see more Indian coaches manage ISL clubs,” he signed off.