UEFA licensed coaches Nicholas Jones and Mathew Elder, in Chennai as part of the Premier India Football Academy (PIFA) football camp, played down the challenges that India, as a non-traditional football centre, posed to their endeavour.
“It is not really a challenge because all the kids are disciplined and listen carefully to what we have to say. They are all quite committed and organisations like PIFA are working to bring in a structure to take the sport around the country,” said Elder, a former Everton Academy player.
“Different cultures have different ways of playing football but the experience has been fantastic,” added Jones, currently the Manchester United Development Coach.
The duo, which will oversee the training of 40 kids between 8 and 18 for three days, brings with it the thrill and glamour of the English Premier League. But with clubs preferring to spend big on proven stars rather than invest in youth and home-grown talent, the rewards of their job aren't immediate.
“A lot of the big clubs want success right away. They do not want to wait around for five ten years for the players to develop,” he says.
Elder, however, put a different spin on it. “In a way it is good for English football because we get to see the best players in the world over in England. Still, it is hard for some of the smaller clubs to compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. But it makes for better viewing,” he said.
An Everton Academy product and a United functionary are possibly the best people to sound off on the recent Wayne Rooney saga.
“At the end of the day football is a job and if you can make more money and win trophies elsewhere, you are not going to say no,” said Jones.
Elder offered an alternative take. “Enjoy playing football wherever you are and it is money that makes people happy.”