Football coaches receive household provisions

The initiative by AIFC had a surprise element with famous names involved in creating the network and executing the plan set up by former goalkeeper Dinesh Nair.

I.M. Vijayan and Bino George (left extreme) did their part in Kerala.   -  AIFC

Football coaches across the nation were in for a surprise in these hard times. One thousand of them spread across 31 states and Union Territories, identified for assistance by a network of full-time coaches, received a packed carton of household provisions last month.

The initiative by the Association of Indian Football Coaches (AIFC), had a surprise element in the famous names involved in creating the network and executing the plan set up in Mumbai by ex-India goalkeeper Dinesh Nair, AIFC Founder-Director, supported by Western India FA vice-president Aditya Thackeray and the SportingLions Foundation.

The nationwide free distribution project, named #AIFCforCoaches, saw former internationals-turned-coaches IM Vijayan, Raman Vijayan, Naushad Moosa, Gouramangi Singh, Ishfaq Ahmed, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Gautam Ghosh, Gumpe Rime to name a few, taking up diverse roles from collecting/verifying the financial condition of intended beneficiary coaches to distribution of the cartons arriving from Mumbai by courier.

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Vijayan handed over a packet each to three coaches in hometown Thrisssur (part of the Kerala distribution).

Currently coaching the Kerala Police side, the icon said: “In these difficult times for all, lending a helping hand at the all-India level is a good move by AIFC. We are trying to make a difference. Training and coaching is not possible unless you have a secure ground. Online coaching is an option, everyone cannot do it and families need to be taken care of…”

Raman Vijayan took a step further by travelling to districts in Tamil Nadu for a personal touch in the cartons handover. The ex-international striker and football expert for a private channel telecasting the Indian Super League, explained: “This is a big initiative, for the first time from the coaches side. Initially, till the packets arrived I was not emotionally involved, but once I started delivering, I came to know people are struggling, not just coaches but football-related people. Some of them accepted the boxes with tears in their eyes.”

He said: “One part of me felt good connecting with so many football people and on the other hand saw our fraternity not able to manage first-hand income from football. The packets meant a lot to them. I thank the entire team at AIFC and Mr Aditya Thackeray.”

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Asked to explain the motive behind travelling to distant locations, Raman said: “I felt that when AIFC is sending help from so far away, I should go and personally deliver. TN is a huge state with 32 districts. From the 42 packets received, 25 was for Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram. I received the rest at Trichy, went to Thanjavur, Karaikudi, Madurai.”

Raman’s decision is a courageous one, viewed against travel restrictions advised to stay safe from catching the infection. Naushad Moosa, ex-international and the Bengaluru FC assistant coach, chose Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh in central India, far away from football base in Bengaluru. “Karnataka has many local coaches interested in being part of the initiative and did not want them to feel marginalised. I am familiar with MP and Chhatisgarh and know whom to tap for information and co-ordinate delivery. When the AIFCforCoaches idea was being formed, monetary help to coaches was an option discussed, then we ruled it out to avoid misuse. Household provisions delivered directly helps the families.”

He remained in Bengaluru to take charge of BFC first team work (now in Bellary for pre-season) and activated old networks with player-turned-coaches in the two states. “India is such a vast country and each state so huge, hence the need was felt for a courier directly from one point to the beneficiary coaches. We know coaches are struggling to make ends meet, everyone is. This is AIFC’s way to assure coaches that they are not forgotten, not go away from football.” He headed central zone (other five zones were north, north-east, south, east, west). State heads were also appointed.

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Gouramangi Singh took charge of Manipur. Shakti Chauhan (Gujarat) and Alex Ambrose (Maharashtra) were coaches involved in their areas.

Dinesh Nair, the Founder-Director who co-ordinated the project, informed that based on recommendations, AIFC packets were handed out to others in the football family (referees, ball boys, groundsmen) besides coaches in need. “I would like to point out a quote from Mahatma Gandhi here: The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane. We conducted webinars to keep coaches updated and motivated right through. The packets distribution to those in need arose out of interaction with those moderating the sessions.”

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