The future looks bleak. Kolkata is considered to be the football capital of India. But over the last few years the city has witnessed gradual decrease in number of quality footballers bursting into the big stage. In fact, the Bengali football players, once known for their ferocity and speed on the field, have almost disappeared. All the major football clubs in Kolkata and the ISL team of the city do not have any Bengali players worth mentioning. For current coach of Under 13 team of Mohammedan Sporting Club Abid Hossain, this is a worrying sign. Abid has been playing football since childhood. He played for East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting Club and few others club of Kolkata. He still plays for his office team. He knows the football circuit of the city quite well. Abid says, there is a serious problem in our current coaching system. The people who are coming into football coaching now only want to earn money. They don’t have anything to give back to the game. They might be educated, studied all the theory, but they never played the game. They lack practical knowledge. That’s why the quality of football in West Bengal is going down day by day. According to Abid, this is a grave concern and the future of Kolkata football isn’t looking bright. Are the football administrators aware of this situation? Abid firmly says, yes. But they are scared of discussing this issue openly.
So, what is the way out? Abid says, former players should be encouraged to take up coaching. Coaching license must be given only to those who have played at least first division or second division football. He further added, only an ex player can properly demonstrate how to chip the ball, how to take an inswing or outswing shot.
Abid is now an established coach. He is employed with government electricity company. But the journey was not at all very smooth for him. With 8 brothers and one sister, his childhood was full of struggle. They only earning member of the family was his father who used to run a small stationery shop. Abid started playing football when he was in 4th standard. Later he joined Under 15 team of Mohammedan Sporting Club. In 1989 he played for Sub Junior Bengal team. Later he went to play for Eastern Rail and senior team of Mohammedan Sporting. He also played briefly for East Bengal.
A lot to be done
Abid feels that the football infrastructure in Kolkata have improved significantly. Now players can earn more money thanks to tournament like ISL and high paying sponsors. But still a lot of work remain unfinished. Abid says, talent should be a criterion for admission in football coaching school, rather than just money. He also feels sad to see not many Bengali footballers emerging these days. He says, during our playing days, we used to be scared of Bengali strikers. In fact, all the major clubs then had 10-12 Bengali players in their team. But that has become history now. Teams like Mohammedan sporting lack proper funding. Players of small clubs should be given sufficient money for their survival. Or else it will become difficult for them to continue play the sport.
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