India needs a large pool of football coach educators: Jeremy Weeks

Jeremy Weeks, Premier Skills Head Coach addressing kids at the workshop alongside coaches of grassroots clubs

Jeremy Weeks, head coach of Premier Skills, an initiative of Premier League in India, feels the success mantra for India to see itself grow as a footballing nation rests on its ability to develop a larger pool of skilled coaches and coach educators.

Jeremy Weeks was speaking at the concluding ceremony of the week-long ISL-Premier Skills training program at Cooperage Ground, Mumbai on September 11. Weeks stressed upon the importance of creating a vast talent pool of coaches and coach educators in India, who further need to work in the communities in encouraging young players to enjoy the sport.

Premier Skills has partnered with the Indian Super League and All India Football Federation (AIFF) to launch its football skills enhancing programme in India, with the Phase 1 course having concluded on Sunday. The launch of Premier Skills in Mumbai marks the beginning of the partnership with an aim to extend the initiative to a full three phase training programme in the coming months.

Over the last one week, 50 grassroots and youth coaches from the eight Indian Super League clubs, including Northeast united FC, and community football coaches from NGOs received expert training and valuable insights in footballing skills from Jeremy Weeks and his qualified team of coaches at Premier Skills. The program was designed to provide ISL clubs grassroots coaches with the skills and support they require to develop their own community football projects.

Jeremy Weeks was supported by Robert Parrett, development manager at Crystal Palace Football Club and Katie Bottom, women and girls development officer at West Ham United Football Club. They were joined by three Indian Premier Skills coach educators Kuntala Ghosh Dastidar, Shekhar Kerkar and Shafeeq Hassan who have come through the programme in India between 2013-16.

Jeremy Weeks, Premier Skills head coach said, “There is a passion and enthusiasm for the sport of football evident in India, more so after the onset of the Indian Super League here. There is a different set of skills required to be a good grassroots community coach. And that’s what we have set out to achieve over the last few days.”

“I am extremely happy with the progress of all the young coaches and ISL team grassroots coaches. They showed great enthusiasm over the week, here in Mumbai, and were always eager to learn more. I hope they continue with their dedication for the next two phases and do justice to the job,” he added.

Sundar Raman, CEO, Reliance Sports said, “These are exciting times for football in India. Delighted that there are so many footballing conversations in the country and we are hopeful that it will lead to a greater interest in the sport. Children today are looking up to footballers as role models and are hoping to step up in honing their skills. That’s where good guidance is important and hence Indian Super League felt it’s important to bring on board Premier Skills program for coaching Indian football coaches.”

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘ache din’ for India, Kushal Das, general secretary, AIFF said, “like our Prime Minister says, we should soon see ‘ache din’ for Indian football through such initiatives. AIFF has been working on the cause of football in the country and our focus over the past couple of years has been on development of grassroots football and coach educators.”

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