Grappling with shortage of coaches

Monday Musing

[M Doley]

While the state government is working hard for development of sports infrastructures in the state, the young players are grappling with an acute shortage of coaches.

It is learnt that currently there is only one AFC A licence holder football coach and two AFC B licence holder coaches in Arunachal Pradesh.

Arunachal Pradesh Football Association secretary Kipa Ajay rued the lack of coaches. Ajay, who is also the treasurer of the All India Football Federation, said that the state urgently needs at least 10 A, an equal number of B, 15 to 18 C, and around 100 D licence holder coaches as quality coaching is the key to developing a successful grassroots football culture.

The state in recent times has produced several talented football players, who had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best football players of the country in the ISL and the I-League, and Gyamar Nikum is one of them.

Nikum was named the ‘best emerging player’ of the I-League, 2023-24. He played 22 matches for Inter Kashi in the I-League and scored four goals. This proves that Arunachal can indeed be a football breeding ground if the players get the right guidance and training.

Football is one of the most loved sports in Arunachal. The passion and love for the sport in the state can be gauged from the packed stadium during the Santosh Trophy held in Yupia earlier this year. Thousands of people thronged the Golden Jubilee Stadium to watch the matches every day, even when the hosts were not playing, during the national football tournament.

Further, the spontaneous participation of more than 700 young players from across the state at a talent scouting conducted by North East United FC at RG Stadium, Naharlagun, speaks volumes about the growing popularity of football among the young Arunachalis. The talent hunt was conducted by the club to induct players for its U-17 and reserve teams. There are many talented football players in Arunachal, who have the potential to go to the top level.

It can safely be stated that a high percentage of sports talents in rural areas remain untapped as sports activities are mainly confined to the state capital region and other district headquarters only. The authorities should focus on grassroots programmes in order to identify and train the talented players, ensuring steady supply of skilled players for the future.

The football clubs can also play a crucial role in the growth of football. In Arunachal, there are at least 12 registered football clubs. But due to lack of financial resources and sponsors, the clubs can’t take up football developmental activities, other than participating in tournaments.

Domestic football leagues provide young players with an opportunity to hone their skills. The Arunachal Super League, rechristened as Indrajit Namchoom Arunachal League, which was suspended after 2020 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, should immediately be resumed for the benefit of the players.

In addition, the sports department should take prompt initiative to appoint sufficient coaches, not only for football but also other sports, to meet the requirement.