One of the most sought after football coaches of the country Khalid Jamil, who recently joined NorthEast United FC as head of their academy and assistant coach of the team, has vowed to give chances to local talented players.
Jamil, who scripted history by winning the I League on his debut with Aizawl in 2016-17, has been spending time at the local tournaments in Guwahati to spot young talents. During an exclusive interview with The Bridge, the 42-year-old Kuwait-born Indian coach shares his thoughts.
Here are excerpts:
Q. How you look forward to your new assignment at NEUFC?
Ans: I'm working towards that. At that moment, I'm looking for talents in Guwahati, Shillong and other places to form the reserve team.
We have come here (Nehru Stadium) to watch the local boys play. We will choose talented upcoming players from here for maybe our senior team or the reserve team. We want to give the opportunity to every talented player.
Q. How will you start the process?
Ans: We will announce dates for the selections trials in different places depending on the ground availability for teams – Under 13, 15, 18 and for the reserve team.
Q. How would like to recall your days at the Aizawl FC?
Ans: It was an unbelievable experience altogether at Aizawl. I enjoyed the days at the Aizawl FC and we did great things. It's memorable.
Q. After that great success, you joined East Bengal. Do you regret that decision?
Ans: No, I don't. That too was different experience. I have learnt a lot. I have done a good job there. I just missed 2 or 3 matches, otherwise it could have been my 2nd I league title. Out of 36 matches, we lost just 3. So, it was wonderful experience. And even with Mohun Bagan also, I had good experience.
Q. How is the football culture in the northeast?
Ans: I have said it before as well. The boys are very hard working. They would also train very hard. So, I have always enjoyed working with them.
Q. Two decades ago, when you were young, Indian football was different. How do you see this change?
Ans: It has been a huge change. There's been a steady climb and taken giant strides towards improvement. Unlike before, now all the players are equipped with the right knowledge. They know when to take rest, how to stay fit and take care of themselves.
They are also learning a lot because of the new experienced coaches who are coming here. There are some highly experienced coaches in I League and ISL as well. So, that way, they get to learn so many things.
Q. Do think the India should have been in the higher position in the FIFA ranking?
Ans: More than rankings, what i focus on is the improvement of the players. I feel, the players over the years have improved a lot. Even women football has also improved. They are too are doing a wonderful job. They are getting good facilities. So, I'm pretty sure they will further improve in the days to come.
Q. Apart from the facilities, what is the most crucial thing to see the better results?
Ans: You got to have good coaches along with the facilities to improve the game. Now, there are some very good foreign coachers. Even Indian coaches have improved a lot. The ISL is also helping Indian football with the participation of many quality players from abroad. The tempo of the matches has increased. Indian boys are also getting chances.
Q. Youngsters here look up to you with high expectations? What is your message to them?
Ans: See, my message to them is I come here to develop the scene. I will try to give chances to everybody (players who will be selected) from Guwahati and the region. I will help the players to play in the senior ISL team and also help them to play even in the senior national team.