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Strong physique must for football, says John Victor

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J. R. Shridharan

Our boys have talent but lack endurance, says the former India footballer

The 58-year-old draws a parallel between the character of Indian football and its Brazilian counterpartBoth excel in astute techniques like dribbling, faking and accuracy but without any punch in the passesPhysical education teachers should play an active role in spotting raw talent, he says

VIJAYAWADA: "Indian footballers are technically brilliant, but the lack of physical strength to suit the modern power game is hampering the growth of the game as a whole," said former India footballer John Victor, who was at Mylavaram recently as an observer of the Andhra Pradesh rural sports meet.

The 58-year-old Victor, who donned the Indian colours from 1967 to 1970 as a stopper - back at various international tournaments held in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Burma, drew a parallel between the character of Indian football and its Brazilian counterpart. Both excel in astute techniques like dribbling, faking and accuracy but without any punch in the passes. "Our boys awfully lack endurance. Most of them are bereft of strong legs and stamina, resulting in poor performance in international arena," he pointed out.

Talent search

Victor said for the growth of Indian football, physical education teachers (PETs) should play an active role in spotting raw talent. "PETs work at grass-root level. Kids from poor and lower middle class families show more interest as they strive to get a job through the game. The district associations, along with PETs, should launch a talent search in villages to scout for stronger players. Both should work in tandem for the growth of the game," he felt.

The former international advocated organising more and more league and inter-school tournaments to get the best out of footballers. "Affiliated clubs are very active in Europe. They regularly conduct tournaments. The facilities and encouragement from the Governments too are overwhelming there. Here too, our State and District associations should take up regular activities to enable our players gain more exposure to the game."

Victor felt that different coaching modules imparted by State coaches to their teams would not augur well for the systematic growth of the game in the country. "In Europe, only national coach prepares a comprehensive coaching module, which would be passed on to all State coaches. Experiments or deviations are not allowed. A uniform coaching pattern will help in the formation of cohesive national team," he explained.

The veteran player said while many football clubs were coming up in Hyderabad, other cities like Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam were yet to emulate the State capital. Victor, who also played for the popular Bengal club Mohammedan Sporting in the early 60s, felt that proper dieting was paramount for the shaping up of a productive footballer. "After toiling hard on the ground, footballers should eat nutritious food. Improper food habits hamper their long-term prospects."

He appreciated the South Central Railways, AP Police and nationalized banks for offering jobs to talented players in Andhra Pradesh.


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