After hockey success, Harendra Singh looking to widen horizon

A keen football fan who loves Arsenal and Barcelona, the junior India coach hopes to dive into the world of the Beautiful Game and polish his coaching skills.

The first step towards that would be a coaching course by the AIFF for beginners in the month of January but Harendra hasn't decided whether to join just yet.   -  k. murali kumar

After fulfilling his commitment and dream on the hockey turf with the Junior World Cup, Harendra Singh is now looking to widen his horizon. A keen football fan who loves Arsenal and Barcelona, the junior India coach hopes to dive into the world of the Beautiful Game and polish his coaching skills.

The first step towards that would be a coaching course by the AIFF for beginners in the month of January but Harendra hasn't decided whether to join just yet. Reason being, it might coincide with the fifth season of the Hockey India League (HIL) starting January 7.

“I have not yet decided but I have asked Dr. Pradip Dutta to find out the details of the same. If it is feasible, I would like to attend that and check how it goes,” Harendra confirmed to Sportstar. Harendra is coach of two-time champion Ranchi Rays in the HIL. Dutta, a former national hockey and football team trainer, is also the only FIFA certified conditioning instructor from India and an Elite instructor with the AFC.

Explaining the rationale, Harendra said the exchange of ideas between hockey and football was common in Europe given the similarities between the two sports and he wanted to try and see if it could be done here as well. “So far, I have learnt about planning and strategies from watching football games on television. I feel actually being part of a coaching course is only the logical next step,” he said.

Germany is a prime example of it with national hockey coaches Bernhard Peters and Markus Weise moving to football. Closer home, current senior India team coach Dutchman Roelant Oltmans was technical director of football back home before returning to hockey.

If it works out, Harendra would like to move further for more intensive courses and develop his planning acumen. However, actually getting into football coaching is not on his radar at the moment. “I want to see how things happen in football and then try and use that to improve coaching in hockey. If things do not work out with AIFF for whatever reason, I might try and contact FIFA directly for their programmes. I have a break now after the JWC, I might as well use it to learn something new,” he said.

Does he envision himself as a football coach ever? “Even if I thought of it, it wouldn't be for at least the next five years, and even then I would only be starting from the bottom because no one can jump straight to the top anywhere,” he said.