Indian Arrows on right target says Bulpin
Margao: India’s football youth development programme is moving in the right direction and the formation of the Indian Arrows I-League team has turned out to be a ‘big step in the right direction’ says Desmond Bulpin, the English coach of the cricket crazy country.
“I congratulate All India Football Federation (AIFF) President (Praful Patel), Bob Houghton for initiating the brilliant idea of having a team of Under-21 players together and playing them in the I-League,” said Bulpin.
The Indian Arrows were founded in the summer of 2010 as the AIFF XI and took over the place of disbanded Mahindra United in the 14 team Indian I-League.
“Look at my squad. It is almost readymade. Isn’t it?” Bulpin questioned.
“The beauty of the squad stays that most of the boys – ten out of my registered eighteen are from Indian Arrows. It’s been served on a platter,” he adds.
But a lot of things need to be done on the youth development front.
“I am happy. They are doing their best (All India Football Federation). It will take time for the game to take shape. Infrastructure, Academies, good pitches are needed all over India Leagues for younger players starting from the age of 12 onwards will do wonders. Most importantly, they all should have good coaches,” he said.
Bulpin who spend most of his life coaching in England has also coached in Singapore, Uzbekistan and Philippines said it’s a pleasure to work with the Indian boys.
“Having work in Singapore, Uzbekistan and spend most of my life in England what I find the best thing about the Asian boys and the Indian boys and especially the Indian boys is that they have a very good attitude. These boys (Indian Arrows) are very eager to learn and listen. It’s a pleasure to work with them. Today the society in England is not as good as yours (Qatar) or in India, where you get a lot respect. We work very hard and the result will show in the years to come,” said Bulpin.
Reflecting on the performance of his team in the I-league which finished ninth after initial problems, but it was a credible finish for the youngsters as the team had no foreigners like all other clubs, Bulpin took pride in the fact that his boys defeat a 100-year-old-club Mohan Bagan in the I-league
“We are just one year old, unlike Mohun Bagan, which is over 100 years, we beat them 5-4 in the I-League.”
On the availability of talent in India Bulpin said: “Talent is aplenty here. But it has to be nurtured in a right manner. Give them the good nutrition, education and most importantly, the basics of the game. If the players are provided all this and trained well, Indian football can be like cricket in the country.”
The Arrows were part of the program initiated by former national coach Bob Houghton and youth development director Colm Toal to prepare an Indian national team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Bulpin said the five-year partnership agreement recently signed between Pailan Group is a big development.
“The Pailan Group will be looking after the Arrows from the new season onwards with the team’s training base being at the Pailan World School’s ground in Joka, which will provide two training pitches along with other facilities including a swimming pool, lodging and food.”
The AIFF spend around Rs 70 Million (7 crores) were feeling the financial burden was too high to sustain over a long term period and the entry of the Pailan group has turned out to a big boost.
Also under the AFC Club Licencing criteria the Indian Arrows need to be run as a team and not as part of the federations youth development, which forced the AIFF also to look at options on how to keep the plans for the future running.