Kolkata is one of the best places for football training in the pandemic: Indian national team coach – Times of India

Kolkata News

They get up early in the morning, hit the gym, return to the hotel for lunch and after some rest, walk to the ground for their evening practice. This is the daily routine of the Indian national football team, which is camping in Kolkata for the first time in 15 years. Except for some players, including Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who are currently participating in the AFC Cup in the Maldives, the 24-player squad has been preparing here since August 15 at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) under the team’s head coach, Igor Stimac, for the upcoming international friendlies to be held in Nepal next month. The camp has been organised by the All India Football Federation in close coordination with the Indian Football Association.
Since the camp is being conducted in a secure bio-bubble in view of the pandemic, the team hasn’t been able to explore Kolkata or its street food, which is otherwise quite popular with sportspersons touring the city. Footballer Adil Khan, who has been sticking to the hotel and training grounds much like his fellow teammates and coach, said, “For us, staying fit is of utmost priority and that requires us to constantly monitor our diets. But we are definitely tempted to try out all the yummy food Kolkata boasts of.”
Meanwhile, the head coach is all praise for the City of Joy. Thanking the state government and sports minister Aroop Biswas, he said, “The facilities here are simply excellent for training. Kolkata has always been a preferred destination when it comes to football. Especially now, when the pandemic has made it difficult to find camping locations, I find Kolkata to be one of the best places to train.”
As the team keeps its focus on training hard and performing well to win another trophy for the country, the players are ready to get into an even stricter routine. CT recently spent a day with the Blue Tigers to find out about their Kolkata experience, upcoming matches and what it takes to reach their level of dedication and discipline. Here’s what they had to say:

Igor Štimac, coach
The head coach of the national squad since 2019, his contract was recently renewed till 2022. Sharing his experience of coaching Indian footballers, Stimac said, “We are in the process of creating a new philosophy for Indian football. Whenever you try to introduce something new, it takes a bit of time to bring the desired change. Patience is what we need. The boys will give their best. We have seen some good results in the recent past during the World Cup Qualifiers. It’s time to move on and build our strength for the next goal – getting qualified for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.”

Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem
The star goalkeeper of the Indian national team hails from Manipur. The young goalie, who grabbed eyeballs after the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, told us, “The first thing I do in the morning is look out of the window and get a view of the majestic VYBK. The walk to the training ground is lovely. Kolkata has top-notch facilities and we are loving it here. I played my first ISL game here in the same stadium and kept a clean sheet during my debut for the Kerala team. This fond memory makes this place even more special for me.”

Glan Martins
For this 25-year-old midfielder, football is everything and the sport has been the greatest teacher of his life. He explained, “Football is a sport that teaches life values. You learn discipline, respect, the value of time. And when you lose, it also teaches you modesty. You naturally start applying these values to your life.”

Sahal Abdul Samad
The 24-year-old midfielder from Kerala primarily plays as an attacking midfielder, but can also be deployed as a wide midfielder. An asset to the team, Samad grew up watching his elder brother play and that’s how he realised his love for the game. Talking about his excellent dribbling skills, Samad said that it comes only with practice. “For a bright future, you need support from all the stakeholders, fans and keep on improving on the technical aspects. It’s a complete package and all of that is currently happening for Indian football. This game is for the masses, and we won’t let anyone down,” he said.

Pronay Halder
A defensive midfielder, he has been playing for several clubs in the country since 2011. Talking about the present state of football in Bengal, the Barrackpore boy said, “This national camp being held in Kolkata after 15 years is probably one of the most positive signs for the football scene of Bengal. The sport is growing here and I’d urge every club in the state to generate more talent so that our boys can play in the national team. I request our clubs to get more involved in the development of programmes at the grassroots.”

Brandon Fernandes
Coming from a family of passionate football fans, Brandon seemed destined to play the game ever since the first time he stepped onto the pitch in 2015. The 26-year-old attacking midfielder, who hails from Goa, believes that the multicultural aspect of India helps the national team in more ways than one. “Our football team signifies the spirit of India with friends coming in from every nook and cranny of the country. Learning about their culture and sociological paradigm that unites us as a country is an enriching experience,” he said.

Anirudh Thapa
When he was in Class I, one of Anirudh’s teachers told him that he was going to be a great footballer one day and within a decade, he fulfilled the prophecy. For this 23-year-old midfielder, the best feeling is when he plays wearing the national jersey. Talking about the challenges faced by Indian football, Anirudh said, “We need to evolve as a sporting nation and for that, I urge parents to encourage their kids to play on the field rather than spending time with gadgets. These small steps will help our children fall in love with the sport.”

what’s the drill?

  • l 8.45 am: Morning screening. Major lower limb structures of the players – like the range of hamstrings and ankles as well as the strength of the groin – are monitored everyday
  • 9am: Breakfast
  • 10am: Gym session for 1st batch
  • 11.30am: Gym session for 2nd batch
  • 1pm: Lunch
  • 2pm to 4pm: Rest
  • 4.15pm: Snacks
  • 4.45pm: Walk to the practice
  • arena in two batches
  • 5pm: Practice
  • 7.45pm: Dinner
  • 11pm: Sleep (In between, the coach/technical staff conduct individual sessions and video analysis with the players)

Exclusive moments with blue tigers

The morning gym session is an integral part of the players’ daily training routine

Jeakson Singh all smiles in between a training session in Kolkata

Akash Mishra during a practice session at the Salt Lake stadium

Performing stretching exercises before and after the practice session is a must

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/kolkata-is-one-of-the-best-places-for-football-training-in-the-pandemic-indian-national-team-coach/articleshow/85647620.cms