Need thousands of academies to teach kids how to play football at the right age, say the English coaches

Former Manchester United players, Steve Coppell and Teddy Sheringham, who are now coaches in the Indian Super League, feel there is a dire need of more football academies in order to improve the quality of Indian football.

Both Teddy Sheringam (left) and Steve Coppell felt that India needs a lot more football academies to promote the sport and develop more young talents.

The two Englishmen at the helm of the two ISL franchise teams, Steve Coppell and Teddy Sheringham, feel India needs “thousands” of football academies to have the talent pool that could elevate it to the world level. They gave the success of their native country as an example of development.

“The only way ahead for Indian football is to have academies right across the country. India is competing at the world stage against countries which have magnificent facilities where players get in from six years of age. For India to match those countries it has to reproduce that kind of education and development within football and that can happen only with academies,” said Jamshedpur FC gaffer Coppell when asked about the way ahead for Indian football.

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 “Certainly in England and Europe you can start training a young boy on his sixth birthday. You can well see such concentration over time produces some of the best players in the world. India does not have that kind of background in football for it to progress and become a real force in the world stage. It has to produce literally thousands of academies right across the country providing the best of facilities so that young boys can develop their skills,” Coppell, who made 322 appearances for the English giant Manchester United, said in his assessment about the essential element about the sport’s development in the country.

Coppell’s compatriot Sheringham, who also played for Manchester United 14 years after the former had hung his boots, shared the views of his club senior about the development aspect. “If you want the game to grow in India you need to have these academies. You have to teach the boys the right way to play at a young age. You cannot just expect them to start at 16 and play very good at 19,” said the new ATK manager.

“All across the Europe and the World we start playing from a very young age. It is getting even very younger in England where you have agents hanging around six and seven year olds, picking them up and putting them into academies. I think that’s a little bit too early as the boys should be given a little bit of room to breathe and enjoy what they do as young kids and when they are between nine and 11 (years of age) they should be told to get into Chelsea tracksuits or whoever they sign for to start training.”

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He differed a bit with his senior but supported his view about development. “This system is really doing good for English football. You saw what the English under-17s and Under-20s have been doing in the world stage. So, if you want to do better get the kids early and teach them the right things about playing football,” said Sheringham, who laid out the example about the World Cup winning efforts of the English junior and youth sides.