India’s U-17 World Cup Team coach Luis Norton de Matos says he has been “hugely inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.” In the first of the two-series interview after taking charge of the U-17 World Team Luis spoke at length about the positives of the team, his meeting with Mr. Patel and National Coach Stephen Constantine, the preparatory plans, looking at new players and much more. EXCERPTS:
The boys have been together since February 2013. What have been the positives?
I am comfortable and also confident with the work which was done before. The boys have played so many games, there has been a scouting process in place – for sure there are a lot of positive things. My job will be to give offer my knowledge and experience to keep the positive things moving.
Every coach is different. In Football, there are no bad or good coaches. Obviously, in the long run, results determine a coach but at the same time, you cannot ignore the work which is being done. It’s understandable that every coach wants to win and I am no exception to that. I will take the positive work in my stride and work the manner that’s best suited for the boys and the team.
How was your meeting with the AIFF President?
Mr. Patel came across as a passionate person with an open mind and conscience. He understands the challenge of the Indian team playing in the World Cup and he assured his best to help the project. It has been under his leadership that many development projects have been started and I am happy to participate and help. It was a very fruitful meeting which we had and he came across as an honest and practical man.
You also met National Coach Stephen Constantine. What did you discuss?
Mr. Constantine was very kind and the conversation helped me a lot. He gave me all everything I need as I go forward. I appreciate his gesture. His support staff – Mr. Ramos and Mr. Danny who worked with the boys have also been generous with their help, providing me all details and the data. Mr. Constantine worked with the boys for a week and his inputs were very valuable.
Have you zeroed down on the preparatory plan?
The plan is to travel to different countries for the boys to have an idea of what to expect in the World Cup. It will help them prepare in the best possible fashion. The first six weeks are extremely important as I need to know every player. We need to build the team as a whole and not just concentrate on 13-14 players. For me, the team is of utmost importance. It’s ‘we’ and never ‘I.’
Would you be looking at new players? And how?
Definitely. The door for players will stay open till the date of the submission of the registered list. I trust the people looking for players in India and to me they are most important people in the entire project. We are all working together for a cause – the overall development of Indian Football. We need to find the best possible players for the National Team.
Have you set any specific targets as far as results are concerned with this team, or if not yet do you intend to?
As part of the preparation, we need to play stronger teams. There is no point winning against weaker teams and winning comfortably. The World Cup will be a different challenge. There is a huge difference in the standards between the National Teams and people in India understand that.
Given the fact that you have a connection with India, have you ever been inspired by any Indian individual?
Mahatma Gandhi has been a huge inspiration in my life. Ever since I watched ‘Gandhi’ the film, he has personally motivated me and added to my strength. He gave me the belief that you can fight for what you want, even if your chances look minimal. I believe that’s is the reason he is revered to not only in India but all over the World.
AIFF Media Team