Bembem Devi: Happy to play an active role in shaping up youth system

SAFF U-15 Women’s team coach, Bembem Devi, reckons women's football in India is on an upswing.

Bembem Devi: "I wasn’t sure about my coaching instincts till AIFF persuaded me to take it up. I was still a player at that time."   -  AIFF Media

The legendary Bembem Devi, who was in her first coaching assignment at the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship, says she’s extremely happy to be playing an active role in redefining the youth setup of women's football in the country.

Following India’s triumph in the final against Bangladesh, Bembem spoke at length about her journey as a coach, her dream, assessment of the present batch, the youth structure and much more.

EXCERPTS:

How satisfying is it to win as a coach?

It’s immensely satisfying. I always cherished a dream of winning a tournament as a coach. But let this be just the beginning. The feeling of winning as a coach is a bit different from that of winning as a player.

What makes you say that?

I was sure about my abilities as a player but unless AIFF hadn’t spotted me as a coach, I would have taken more time to come out. Winning as a coach is living around the emotion but winning as a player is like living in the emotion. Both are different feelings and I am fortunate to have experienced both.

So have you settled down in your new role?

I am still settling down. There’s so much still left to learn and achieve. I reiterate, maybe I wasn’t sure about my coaching instincts till AIFF persuaded me to take it up. I was still a player at that time.

Looking back, do you regret taking up the job?

Looking back, there are absolutely no regrets. Today I know I made the right decision. But I was kind of brought into coaching – it wasn’t completely my decision. AIFF’s trust means a lot to me. I am very happy to be playing an active role in the effort to redefine the youth setup of women's football in our country. The youth set-up, after all, is the bedrock of all footballing success.

What was your assessment of the final which India won?

Bangladesh was always going to be a tough team to play against. But we stayed united and that saw us through. We had devised a plan to counter their forwards and it worked. We wanted to score an early goal but even though we came close, we scored it eventually. This batch is really talented and I am happy to nurture them into better players.

All the players look up to you and want to follow your path.

I am just fortunate to have such a career. But right now, I want to implement whatever I have learnt as a player into my career and help in youth development. Women’s football in India is on the rise and I am doing my part.

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