A master tactician

The outspoken coach, who is credited with introducing many new methods and ideas in Indian club football, has yet again proved that he is the best thinker among the present flock of gentlemen at the helm of I-League clubs. By Amitabha Das Sharma.

Subhash Bhowmick may not have the requisite Asian Football Confederation coaching license but that has not daunted the former international from reaching the apex of success in Indian club football. The outspoken coach, who is credited with introducing many new methods and ideas in Indian club football, has yet again proved that he is the best thinker among the present flock of gentlemen at the helm of I-League clubs. Churchill Brothers reclaimed the I-League title thanks to Bhowmick, who was the real motivator as the technical director.

“Needing a foreign coach to bring success is nothing but a colonial hangover, which most clubs in India are unable to shake off,” Bhowmick declared in his inimitable style and diction. “It is a real big problem in India where foreign coaches get undue preference. But if you really get into their backgrounds very few have the desired credentials.”

Bhowmick, who had a well decorated playing career with the national team and the Kolkata giants like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, has been equally successful as a trainer/manager. He is really a players’ manager who always finds a way to reason with the officials to get the best facilities for his wards. He introduced five-star accommodation facilities for his team (East Bengal) way back in 2002, a concept that was alien to Indian football then. This was one among the many changes that Bhowmick introduced to guide East Bengal to an unimaginable realm of success, which culminated with the team winning the ASEAN Club Cup in 2003. Incidentally, Bhowmick was the also man responsible in helping East Bengal win the National Football League two times in a row, in 2002-03 and 2003-04. That was also the last time when a club from Kolkata won the premier club title, which has remained primarily a Goan preserve ever since.

There were prolonged periods of turmoil in Bhowmick’s career thereafter. But the maverick coach quelled all the challenges to make a triumphant return in the end. “I was successful in realising the dream of winning an international title for East Bengal with the ASEAN Cup. I love to live up to challenges,” Bhowmick said. “This time with Churchill Brothers the task had a different degree of difficulty. We were complete outsiders with an inexperienced group of players, who were never in the reckoning before the start of the season.”

Talking about the many difficulties faced across the gruelling 26 rounds of matches, he said: “It feels nice that I could justify the faith reposed on me.

"I was a relative outsider (in Goa) and there were a lot of undercurrents in the team that I had to adjust to. I occasionally had to fight with my employer, Churchill Alemao, on many issues but that happened because we shared mutual respect."

Known for his robust playing style and fearless attitude on the field, he still retains the zeal that makes him run after his dreams. “I now dream to win the AFC Cup. Next season, I want to go to a club that agrees to back my new dream,” he declared.