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?Refs, watch Germany to get it right?

Bhutia stressed need to develop game at grassroot level, writes Arjun Sen.

india Updated: May 21, 2006 01:48 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
None

The Indian football captain, Bhaichung Bhutia, reckons that Germany 2006 would be a perfect opportunity for the often-bungling Indian referees to study and learn the intricacies of officiating.

In the city to launch a futsal tournament, Bhutia was scathing in his views about how inept officials plagued Indian football. “If India have to move in the right direction, the quality of refereeing has to drastically improve,” he said.

Stressing the need to develop the game at the grassroot level, he admitted there is a dearth of ‘real coaching knowledge’ within the country and blamed the present infrastructure — or the lack of it — for the malaise.

“Organising tournaments at different age groups would go a long way in developing a pool of talented players to choose from,” he said. Asked why India couldn’t make it to the World Cup, while the economically-weaker African

nations could, Bhutia said it was unfair to draw comparisons.“The Africans play under good coaches in European clubs, and are therefore physically fitter,” he remarked.

Full of ideas on how to improve Indian football, Bhutia urged authorities to set up youth academies throughout the country and hone talent from a young age.

On foreign coaches, Bhutia said that while they would bring in new ideas, it would be imprudent to think that the team would start doing well overnight.

“A big coach can bring about a sea change in Indian football but for that he would need absolute freedom in conducting his operations,” he said. The East Bengal striker was unequivocal in his criticism of the Kolkata clubs and laid the blame squarely on what he called “the ever-growing mistrust between coaches and players”.

On the prospective candidates for the post of National coach, Bhutia reiterated that he had no favourites and would be happy as long as the new coach put in his best to develop Indian football.

He wasn’t very hopeful though that the National team could challenge the best in Asia any time soon and said Indian football needed “someone like Peter Kenyon” — the Chief Executive of the Chelsea Football club — to help it gain ground.

First Published: May 21, 2006 01:36 IST