Monthly Archives: January 2012

Matchday/Day Off

Sunday is, of course, match day; one that I approached confidently after my 100% record from the week before. The first game this week saw the two teams Ali managed last week face off as the Ten Hurricanes took on the Serious Cyclones, I was managing the cyclones and was reasonably impressed with a first half performance that saw the team come in 1-0 up at half time after a goal from Rishab.  After a team talk in which I told the team that, despite the positives, they had to make sure they released the ball a lot earlier they went back out and scored an early goal in what was in all honesty a pretty disjointed second half before holding on for the 2-0 victory. The next game was easily the best one we have been a part of since our arrival, this one saw me taking the Lightning Strikers, probably my favourite team so far, in their fixture against the table topping Eleven Aces who I managed in a 6-3 victory the week before.  After a good warm up led by Captain Prakash I brought the guys in to talk about a number of things I’d noticed the week before. I’d chosen to work with the lightning strikers again as out of the two teams I had managed they were the one I’d found myself thinking about during the week, formulating tactics and positional tweaks that I felt could improve them, the major of these that I unveiled in the teamtalk were moving Nukul, who had played defence in the first game, to play as a ‘hold-up’ man up front with two flying wingers in the form of Vanj and Bist making runs past him, encouraging Prakash to continue in the holding role in which he had excelled last week and ensuring the two defenders stayed a lot closer together and played further up the pitch than the week before.  These changes worked fantastically in the early periods of the game as the team came flying out of the blocks, monopolising possession and looking a real threat in attack, with Nukul and Vanj in particular taking to their new roles with relish. Our early dominance was soon reflected in the scoreline as the team sped into a 2-0 lead after goals from both the aforementioned attackers. However Eleven Aces are not top of the league for nothing and after the ‘first quarter’ break they came back strongly, pushing our team increasingly further back and snatching a goal back to ensure the score was 2-1 at half time. After half-time, and despite a teamtalk in which I urged the Lightning Strikers to push forward more it was clear the table-toppers tails’ were up as they steadily pushed my team further and further back, eventually scoring an equaliser after Gatu (who had also scored the first) scored a brilliant lobbed effort after receiving the ball from a goal kick. With the last quarter to come the game was even and I encouraged my team once again to keep their heads up and keep going to the final whistle, a request with which they complied with fantastically well for the majority of the last quarter, defending heroically whilst still carrying a threat on the counter, however just as the game seemed destined for a draw Rahul strode out from the back for the Aces and managed to squeeze the ball inside the post with a long-range drive, winning the game for his team and leaving me gutted on the touchline. Despite the loss I was really happy with the improvement in the Lightning Strikers and the performance of a few players in new positions, especially the previous striker Vanj who deservedly claimed the MoTM award for my team. After a narrow win over the other team near the bottom the week previously the team played really well to run the team who are top by a distance so close in a game which I feel, with a bit more confidence they could have won.

The quality of football in this game from both teams was much improved, a fact which was commented on by Arup and some of the other coaches at its conclusion which hopefully goes to show that our coaching has made a difference even in the short time we’ve been here and really inspires us to help them try and improve even further.

The rest of Sunday was spent chilling out at home as I tried to get over this disappointment, luckily the movie channels excelled themselves as I spent the afternoon alternating between Lord of The Rings and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days before spending the evening watching Hitch which, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, was awesome.  After working out the pin code we have taken full advantage over these channels, they are especially welcome as when I was at a loose end after being here a few days I decided to download Hall Pass on Itunes….it’s now been 2 weeks and it currently says it should be ready in 42 hours!

After a couple of hours sleep I was woken up just in time to see Arsenal’s heroic comeback against Villa and, more importantly the return of Le Coq, Hero!

As I’m sure you know Mondays are our day off and today we decided to head into Central Delhi, Arup suggested we go to Connaught Place which is, as far as I can tell, the main shopping area of Delhi and the nearby Jantar Mantar, an ancient observatory. Connaught Place was very different to what I had expected, I envisioned it as a place similar to Central London when it fact it was laid out in two circles, an inner and outer ring with a park in the middle and absolutely loads of rickshaw drivers/guys selling crap on the street and one man who I think wanted to charge me to clean my ear! After walking round the shops, which were mainly big western chains Ali and I decided there wasn’t really that much to see there, apart from one aptly named pizza shop! And decided to head off to Jantar Mantar after an obligatory visit to KFC for lunch. Jantar Mantar was really peaceful, a million miles away from the noise and hustle and bustle just outside it’s gates, a great way to spend a chilled out sunny afternoon in Delhi.  Monday was topped off with a beer and a massive Chinese at a local restaurant and of course ages blogging it all up! So with that, im off to bed.. 6am start tomorrow! Night!

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I must start this entry with an apology, I have spent the last few days feeling guilty as whilst I was recovering I managed to give Ali my cold which meant he spent the end of this week in the same way I spent the beginning!  This has meant we haven’t done any English lessons this week- giving the kids even more time to perfect their teapot dance!- but we have taken a number of coaching sessions.

On Thursday morning Mr Kaliya and I took the Moti Bagh open group in a turns session in which I tried to focus on how the turns could be used in a match scenario, under pressure. This was the most distinctly average session in India yet, the kids did ok but as a coach I definitely could’ve done with a bit more motivation- definitely space for improvement! After this session, and a nap I headed out to the Priya Complex; the home of our local cinema, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and, according to the internet, a number of bars which have as yet eluded us! On this occasion however I wasnt going for anything half as exciting as a beer or a Maharaja Mac, no, I was there for socks as after two and half weeks with no laundry I’m pretty sure you can smell the ones I brought with me in England (or Kenya, Indonesia etc etc) anyway 800 rupees and a celebratory chocolate milkshake later im now the proud owner of some puma bad boys (I bet you’re really glad you logged onto the blog now, you can go now if you want, I won’t be offended, there must be something to do on Facebook).

After that wildly successful trip, where I also managed to negotiate the rickshaw guy down to 30 rupees for the journey home after his opening gambit of 50, like I was some tourist pssh…. I had another session at IYSA this time taking the u-14s open group along with the special group as Ali was still not up to coaching. I decided to do another first touch session in which the kids had to use their touch to turn a defender before passing the ball to an unmarked player, I was really impressed with the way the majority of kids grasped this and executed the drill; particularly when it was progressed so they had to use their chest. After this drill I ended the session with a couple of weight of pass games we had made up whilst training at Rosemary Gardens which the kids seemed to enjoy, all in all a good session. Following the session I took part in a piece of IYSA tradition which I have previously failed to inform you about; the weekly coaches v u16s match. Ali and I had taken part in this game the week before in which he scored in a close 2-1 win for the coaches, achieved despite the extremely lacklustre performance from the Englishman in centre midfield!  After that performance I went into this week’s game knowing I would have to up my game to ensure I didn’t lose all credibility as a coach in front of the watching under 14s/11s, luckily after a much improved performance I helped the coaches to a comprehensive 4-2 win over the kids after two goals from Anuj and despite a wondergoal from one of the u16s.

Saturday morning saw another Moti Bagh session, this time I was accompanied by Arup to work with the Junior and Senior groups.  This session was the first in which I tried a pass and move drill learnt on the Youth Module course in which participants play in pairs against one defender attempting to move the ball to a number of zones within the playing area, focusing on creating angles. The game went really well and is one I’m definitely going to use again. In terms of attitude the senior group at Moti Bagh are brilliant with each member really wanting to get better, always listening and willing to take on board advice, they are an absolute pleasure to work with.

By Saturday afternoon Ali was recovered enough to coach and he took the majority of the under -11 group whilst I worked with the u-14 special group and a few of the most advanced under-11s. As a progression from the weight of pass work done in the session held on Friday I decided to work on the information you can give to a receiving player with a pass, across their body and firm if you want them to turn and softer to their nearest foot if you want them to hold it. In terms of the group taking on board ideas this was one of my favourite sessions so far as by the end even the youngest kids were displaying a real understanding of the topic and improvement in their passes.   This session was followed by another coaches v u16 game and this time Ali passed a late fitness test to take his place in goal, what followed was our most comfortable win so far; easing to a cheeky 4-0! This game banished any lingering doubts we had about how we were supposed to take these games, to begin with Ali and I were unsure about the protocol in regards to tackling etc, we were emphatically enlightened when Maniche (one of the coaches, another ex-Delhi player) absolutely hammered Saugat  (one of our first week tour guides) in a 50/50 on the half way line, setting the tone for a game in which the shackles were very much off!

Buzzing after good sessions and a good win after training Ali and I decided to venture out to see what the nightlife in Vasant Vihar had to offer as previous evening trips out had only led us to its various fast food joints! Upon arriving at the Priya complex I suggested a cheeky one in the Man United Bar, a suggestion treated with the disgust it deserved by Ali who then led us in search of another bar. After a quick scout around we managed to find a restaurant/bar offering six kingfishers for 1000 rupees (about 12 quid) along with a panoramic view over the deserted square, waterless fountain and a few indian guys urinating in public. After finishing here we set off to another bar we had seen earlier, after being welcomed in and shown to what was apparently our designated standing spot we were given two Coronas and a bill which informed us they were a fiver each. Despite the pricier drinks at this place we were compensated with front row seats to the human theatre that is an Indian Night club; a guy being carried out off his face, umpteen shisha pipes, a possible hooker and lashings of indescribable dancing all happening to the soundtrack of what can only be described as Banghra-Dance fusion music which I was massively keen on.  After the possibly prostitute left we decided it was probably time for us to do the same and, after a McFlurry, went to bed looking forward to Sunday.

P.S. Here are some of the promised pictures.

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Week thus far

On Monday, our day off, despite being in the grips of the aforementioned cold Ali and I had to go to Gurgaon in an effort to sort out our internet, after doing so (or so we thought) we headed to McDonalds for lunch, after getting over the intense disappointment of the branch being out of Maharaja Mac I settled for a McSpicy chicken and became an unwitting participant in a game called watch the white guy eat, with about 5 or 6 people around the restaurant including a couple of employees stopping what they were doing and turning to stare as soon as I sat down, before hurriedly turning away when I looked up! Obviously news of my managerial prowess must have spread to the malls of Gurgaon! The rest of Monday was spent chilling out before heading to the Priya complex in the evening for a spot of Indian Pizza Hut.

On Tuesday after Ali went to Moti Bagh in the morning we were excused coaching duties as I didn’t feel up to it, instead we were taken to watch some of a football tournament run by some of the IYSA coaches about 3 minutes’ walk from our house at the Shri Ram school, one of the most prestigious in Delhi. We managed to watch two under 10/11 games, the first between the home side and the Modern School, who took on the role of stoke against Shri Ram’s Santos- due to their ‘Neymar and Ganso’ pairing in attack who pulled the strings in a comfortable 2-0 win, despite the efforts of the Modern School’s Rory Delap. We then watched a team coached by Tanveer, another of the IYSA coaches play, this game could be described as a throwback as both teams clearly adopted the Dutch ‘total football’ maxim of the Cruyff era- totally abandoning traditional, constricting ideas of positions and choosing instead to chase the ball wherever it was on the pitch. In the end, Tanveer’s team sneaked a deserved 1-0 victory. After the tournament we were taken to get passport pictures which we need to give to the police and our landlord, due to not shaving during my time in India if I do ever get in trouble the police are going to be looking for a man with a whispy, and disturbingly ginger, ‘tache.   Our photoshoot was followed by a return home for a nap and the mask on TV- absolute classic.

On Wednesday we were still excused English teaching duties but I felt a lot better, well enough to do a turns session with the open group at Moti Bagh which was followed by another visit to the tournament, this time to watch Vasant Valley school against the inexplicably named Scottish High. Both these teams came into the game with a big reputation and it was immediately easy to see why, the standard of football was miles ahead of what we had seen in the same age group the day before Scottish High in particular played very good football, echoing Arsenal to the extent that they lost despite totally monopolising possession and had a talented playmaker who I’m sure will be off to a richer school in summer- not that I’m still bitter. After the game we were introduced to their coach who talked to us about the team, that they were told behaviour was key to good performance and how he was focusing on long term gain over short term results, which was all very impressive.  After leaving the tournament having informed him we had no way of getting people scouted and an unsuccessful attempt to register with the Delhi police we were back to IYSA for the afternoon session in which I was again with the under-11s. After the always popular ‘Robin Hood’ warm up  I focused on turns and was very impressed with the technical ability of a lot of the group, the session was finished with a race featuring all of the turns we had worked on with a medal on offer for the winner. Aditya, who had won his heat and the semi-final deservedly triumphed and was very proud of his prize, despite having no idea who Bacary Sagna (who was on the medal) is! Needless to say me and Ali informed him the he is an absolute hero.

As for today, we have had the day off due to Republic day in India and so far I have spent the vast majority of it catching up with this! Sorry about writing a book and the still picture-less nature of my blogs, I’ll add some when Ali uploads his pictures onto his laptop and I’m gonna charge my phone this week so I can take some of my own! Anyway, hope everything is going well to everyone back in England, Cheers for reading. Also, well done to Raiders for their 1-0 victory yesterday…come on the lads!

Anyway, im off to fight the dog outside to try and get an illness worthy of mention.  Cheers!


P.S as I said in the first post of the trilogy of blog- the internet thing we bought is still, 3 days after we were assured it would be, not working.  Back to mooching of IYSA internet!

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On Saturday morning we were finally able to do a session at Moti Bagh, doing a shortened version of the overlap drill which had worked well with the IYSA kids with a combination of the Senior and Junior groups whilst a few of the open group kids who had turned up despite it not being their day did some passing with Arup and Mr Kaliya. Although the session went pretty well, despite the Moti Bagh kids generally not having the technical ability of their IYSA counterparts, the undoubted highlight of Saturday morning was our post-training trip to Mr Kaliya’s house for chai. Upon arrival along with our cup of tea and chocolate bourbons Mr Kaliya brought out a scrapbook about his playing career. Flicking through it was clear to see that Nerinder Kaliya (or Kumar as he was sometimes credited) was some player! Amongst the many newspaper clippings were some describing his double hat-trick in one game, scoring a second half hat-trick from centre back, Captaining the Delhi state team and playing against the then Indian captain in front of 30,000 people! Ali and I both thought the scrapbook was absolutely brilliant and were honoured that he wanted to share it with us, after declining another cup we were told we were back anytime, a statement which, as well as cementing Nerinder’s legend status, was typical of the helpful, polite and friendly attitudes we have experienced in India thus far.

After our morning session and tea we were off with Vinod to visit the Salaam Balaak Trust where we will be teaching on Saturday’s and which is already home to a few IYSA kids. The trust is a children’s home for runaways and street kids further into central Delhi than the places we have been so far, easy to see by the traffic jams outside featuring cows, horses, auto and pedal rickshaws as well as the odd car or hundred. After meeting the kids and teachers we went back for a standard nap before another IYSA session, I took the under-11s whilst Ali took the special group.  As a follow up to the skills corridor drill we did in our previous session with the group I did another dribbling session, starting with basic dribbling around a square incorporating  a change on balls on the ‘switch’ trigger word. This then progressed onto a game of sharks during which I made the rookie mistake of asking for volunteers to be sharks and was swamped by kids who apparently like nothing more than running round tackling/ kicking others!  This was followed by the classic cone road which, with lots of races and a few variations inspired by my colleagues currently in Kenya, went down really well! After our session we went home and enjoyed the 3 premier league games on offer on ESPN!

As anyone who has read this blog so far knows Sunday is matchday for the IYSA kids, this one contained the extra twist that Ali and I would be taking charge of a team each in the two under-14 fixtures being played, I was to take the table-topping Eleven Aces in the first match against 2nd place Serious Cyclones followed by the Lightning Strikers against Ten Hurricanes in match two. Now, not to sound boastful of course but I feel it would be a disservice to you as my readers not to inform you that I am now the proud owner of a 100% managerial record against my Canadian counterpart. In game one the Eleven Aces fully lived up to their billing as pre-match favourites as the team with 4 or 5 special group players raced into a 6-0 lead due thanks to a Gatu (obviously) hat-trick and goals from Morwin, Rahul and Ajay, the game got slightly closer as I was forced to take Gatu and Pradeep; who had been an absolute rock at the back off in the interests of fairness, the Cyclones took advantage of this by scoring three quick goals before I brought Pradeep back on to see us comfortably to the final whistle and secure his place as man of the match. The second game was a lot closer as the two bottom teams struggled to produce the sort of attacking football displayed in the previous match.  However after an inspired tactical change, moving to 2 at the back with Prakash- the team’s best player- in the ‘Alex Song role’ in front of the back to we managed to scramble a goal and preserve the lead thanks to some heroic defending which saw the left back Arbas being named man of the match despite Prakash playing a blinder.

Although it would be easy to attribute these victories to my teams having the better players I’m going to choose to ignore this and maintain it was due to my inspiration and tactical nous- despite evidence to the contrary!

After football we were taking for lunch in Gurgaon by Arup, he took us to a restaurant which was like an Argos for Indian food; you order at the counter and wait for your number to come up on the screen. The food itself was very good again with the Pao Bhaji (the proper name for ‘bat bhaji’ which I mentioned before) living up to expectation and very good (although I have no point of comparison) Masala Dosa. After lunch we were shown some of Gurgaon’s many, many malls where we got Ice Cream and attempted to buy a 3G internet card before being told to come back tomorrow with our passports and visas

On Sunday evening Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny played really well, that’s all I have to say on the topic.

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Ok, who had 11 days…?

Dear readers, the inevitable has happened. Yes, I have fallen ill in Delhi. It was not however with the famous, and fully expected, Delhi Belly nor have I contracted typhoid or one of the various farm-animal named flu’s which are apparently so big in Asia. No, I travelled all the way to the exotic subcontinent of India only to be struck down with a cold, the most English of all ailments. I know this isn’t the sort of exciting news you’ve come to expect from this blog and can only apologise, although if it makes you feel better you could consider it my immune system’s way of displaying sever homesickness.

Anyway, after some prolonged naps and becoming acquainted with India’s answer to lemsip I’m over that now, back coaching and (obviously) blogging.

I had wanted this blog to be a triumphant post about how Ali and I had stopped mooching off of IYSA’s internet and managed to set up our own. However as I’m currently using the same data card, borrowed off IYSA due to not having the internet for ages(I’ll get to that later) I’ll split this entry into a couple of posts. I suppose I’d better start from where we left off.

On Friday morning we arrived at Moti Bagh only to be greeted by the worst fog we had seen yet in India, after Ali disappeared into it whilst standing about 10 metres away from me we decided there was no way we would be able to run a session and we were forced to call it off, disappointing but a lie in is never to be sniffed at! After a quick nap and breakfast at home we went back to the Literacy India centre in Mohmadpur for our second lesson teaching English. This time we were far more prepared, arriving with a number of English poems and nursery rhymes for the kids to learn, we started with ‘I’m a little teapot’ which we sang to the group whilst performing the accompanying dance before moving on to a poem about rain which Ali found on the internet. Despite a few dodgy moves by me and Ali after about fifteen/ twenty minutes most of the kids had enough of a grasp on the poem to recite the rhyme with the actions and we told them we expect them to have it perfect as we set it for our first homework! After the rhymes we moved on to some basic dialogue which could be used in a shop, the teacher said the kids found this really interesting which was great to hear! For the last twenty minutes or so the lesson basically stopped being an English one for the kids and became a Hindi one for me, after translating our English shopping statements into Hindi the kids dragged me around the room to pictures of animals and fruit, shouting out the translations and laughing at my attempts to pronounce them, I’m sure this was nervous laughter brought about by their complete awe at my grasp of their language rather than anything else. Despite their best efforts I left the lesson with only a slight headache and basically no improvement in my Hindi apart from one important word I used a lot, ‘Dhirey’ (slow). (Although I think dog might be something like Gata).

Later that day I had another session at IYSA with the under-14s not selected for the special group. This was probably the first ‘follow up’ session which followed the pattern Ali and I want to use for our sessions here. After working on first touch with the group last time I opened with a warm up in which we recapped the different methods of control touched upon in the last session (chest, thigh, foot) before moving on to work on using your first to create space and get away from a defender. This space recognition drill was one I had really liked during coach training and was a definite step up from the previous session difficulty-wise, accordingly the group were quite slow to pick up on the major coaching points to begin with when trying to manoeuvre their touch through a cone gate but when I added defenders so they could see how they would work in practice during a match their understanding improved massively and by the end I was extremely happy with their progress.

Our TV was also fixed on Friday, granting us full access to the frankly obscene amount of premier league football on Indian television and a range of movie channels just in time for the games on Saturday. Top day.

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Happy Birthday Ali


Yesterday was Ali’s 23rd Birthday so I obviously have to start this post by saying Happy Birthday to my roommate, coaching partner, and favourite Canadian. On the day of his birthday we woke up to a phone call from Arup telling us our session at Mogi Bagh may have to be cancelled due to fog, being from England I thought I would be used to such adverse weather but I was totally unprepared for the sight we were greeted with when we arrived at the school, we could barely see half of the playing field as the fog was so thick. Although we initially thought we might have to cancel the session seeing all the kids who had turned up despite the weather made us determined to put it on and, after a quick check of the pitch,  decided to do another skills corridor session. The session was probably my favourite up until that point in India as, after help from Arup and Mr Kaliya with the translations, the kids seem to take on board what we were trying to tell them and improved massively through the session, this group is probably the most basic we work with so any improvement at all with them is really rewarding. We ended the session with a game called sharks in which the ‘fish’ had to protect the ball they were dribbling from the tackling sharks, the kids really enjoyed this and we left really happy that we had decided to put on the session.

After heading home for breakfast we were soon out again to visit another literacy India centre, this one was much closer to where we live and also gave us our first chance to see a class in action, much to the curiosity of the kids. After the obligatory cup of chai we were told this centre would be where we would be taking part in our first English language lesson the day after and left looking forward to it.

We were soon out again for another session at IYSA, I took the under-14 ‘special group’ featuring the best players of that age group and some particularly good under-11s  who Arup decided  would benefit from slightly more advanced coaching and will now be coming four times a week, whilst Ali took the rest of the under-11s. As most the advanced group were already pretty good technically I decided on working on ways to transfer these skills into matches, working on possession and movement.  Although some of the kids picked up on the need to communicate and support the man on the ball as a whole this was the session in which I feel the kids showed the least marked improvement from beginning to end but as this was probably more advanced than the others, without instructions that could be easily demo’d, perhaps this was to be expected. One notable exception to this was Rishab, another very talented member of the under-14 squad who, as me and Ali agree, is perhaps the most natural footballer we have seen so far with a bag of tricks that would put Ronaldo to shame! He deservedly won the player of the day award.

Post-training was dedicated to the big day, Ali gave out a big bag of sweets to the kids who had already sung him happy birthday (we also signed yet another autograph, and posed for pictures with this guy….madness!) before us and the coaches shared out a tremendous birthday cake provided by IYSA and Mr and Mrs Popat! We then made the drive to Gurgaon with Arup to meet Rupen and Khilna (his girlfriend) for dinner, Gurgaon is on the southern outskirts of Delhi around 15 minutes away by car, although closer to half an hour if you actually want to be alive when you arrive there. It is also yet another testament to the massive development being undertaken in India, with some of the most ridiculously over the top office buildings I’ve ever seen on the way in.  We ate at a small vegetarian restaurant recommended by Rupen where the food was unbelievable, in Bat Baji? (Obviously not spelt anything like that) I’ve definitely found a new favourite! Anyway, after another dice with death drive on the way home, I got home and crashed straight out, nackered.

Our Moti Bagh session was cancelled due to even heavier fog than the day before, granting Ali and I a much appreciated lie-in! After a leisurely breakfast we left the apartment at 10.30 in time for our lesson and literacy India beginning at 11. This journey was our first in the famous Indian auto-rickshaws (or tuk-tuks) first impressions of this mode of transport were, that despite being cheap (about 30p for a 10 minute journey), they are absolutely freezing! Sure I’ll be glad of it come February/March though!

The lesson started very quietly as Ali and I were asked what the lesson was going to be today; a lesson which we had not planned for as we thought we would only be assisting. After a few awkward moments of silence in which an hour and a half lesson seemed a long time we were soon rolling after Ali suggested working on likes and dislikes. The standard of the class was very varied with some handling our questions on their favourite subjects, fruit, colour and sports with ease whilst some had barely any English at all. Still, by the end all the kids were able to say what they liked, with some even being able to explain why so all in all I think a decent lesson!

After another brilliant lunch rustled up by Robi the chef I had another session with the under -14s special group who we put together with the under-16 B team due to an initial lack of numbers. Today’s session was a particular good one, a massive improvement from yesterday.  After the lack of movement on display yesterday Ali and I both wanted the session to focus on passing and moving, particularly using one-twos and overlaps, along with awareness and communication. After a warm up which I was really pleased with, having made it up about half an hour before the session we had two groups of 16 practicing making angles and beating defenders with movement, with shouts of ‘hold, hold, release’ which had echoed around rosemary gardens on many a cold Tuesday morning overlap drill now being heard in the somewhat more exotic surroundings of New Delhi!

To finish, I would like to leave you with a song which, as Anuj’s ringtone, has been stuck in our head for pretty much all of the last week… good luck not singing the first few lines everywhere you go for the next few days!


P.S- if anyone is keeping count, players of the day today were Morvin- possibly the happiest kid we’ve met so far  and winner of our first ever competition on the first day and Prakash, a third member of a very talented group of under  14s with a first touch best described as ‘kaka-esque’


P.P.S- An old man farted whilst walking in front of us in the street today before casually walking on; it was like ice cracking on a frozen lake. Don’t want to say best moment in India so far but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t up there.

P.P.P.S- I will try and upload some more pictures soon!

P.P.P.P.S- Im not sure you understand the scale of the old man’s fart- it was really really loud.


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First Day at School


Over the last two days Ali and I have been being shown round some of the other projects we will be a part of whilst here in Delhi. Yesterday we visited the Moti Bagh government school which is about a 10 minute drive away from our apartment and where will be taking morning sessions, running from 6.45, yes 6!, to 7.45 when the boys have to start classes for the day. Although the facilities aren’t up to the standards set by IYSA HQ this school has a reputation for producing some of the best footballers in Delhi, it is where Anuj started to play the game and its current pupils include Gatu, who I mentioned earlier and several other IYSA boys. Whilst visiting we were introduced to the head of PE, Mr Puri who talked to us about the state of football in India as well as telling us he had banned cricket in the school as it would take over other sports, explaining the success of the school football, and Banghra teams! Who he promised would perform for us before our team here is done.

After meeting some of the kids we would be coaching at the school’s assembly, held on the football pitch we were taken back to the office so Ali could sort out a sim card from the local market. After this was done Arup showed us some of the travel opportunities we could take up whilst in India during a short period of time we have off in March before reiterating our purpose for being here, to improve the technique and awareness of the kids in order to get them playing the sort of football he, and the IYSA coaches like; on the floor and attacking ‘the Arsenal way’ as he put it before checking and deciding the ‘Barcelona way’ might be a better analogy, as IYSA win things!

After waking up bright and early yesterday  morning we arrived at the Moti Bagh school at around twenty to seven to the realisation that the sun wasn’t going to come up to at least seven. This didn’t seem to have any negative affect on the kid’s enthusiasm though as there were at least thirty-five of them running laps in the darkness when we arrived, with more arriving as we watched.  As the sun rose Ali and I began our first sessions, I worked with the ‘open group’; mostly beginners whilst he took the school’s senior team. In order to gauge the ability level of the group I chose to do a very simple drill to start with; focusing on basic passing with the inside and outside of the foot, although inside of the foot went ok many of the group struggled when using the outside. Despite these difficulties the kids were an absolute pleasure to work with, very attentive, eager to learn and clearly possessed with a real passion for the game, this attitude meant that many showed a real improvement throughout the session after listening to the coaching points given by me, Anuj and the legend that is Mr Kaliya, a 64 year old ex-Delhi footballer who is at the school well before us every morning, as well as coaching in other schools in the district.

After returning home for breakfast and a nap we headed out to the Literacy India centre in Saket at which, along with its partner centre in Mohmadpur, we will be helping teach English and basic computer skills four days a week. The journey to Saket was our first experience of Indian public transport, after hopping onto the still moving bus on the ring road near of our apartment Ali and I proceeded to sit in the ladies only area on the bus before being hurriedly moved on by Vinod. Although this seems an easy mistake for any new visitor to the city to make it’s less excusable when one considers the massive signs about the seat which, in bright red writing, clearly state its ladies only, a sign pretty visible to someone who would actually bother looking! After getting off the bus we were taken onto the Delhi subway system which was very impressive, with wider, and much cleaner trains that on the tube at home, as well as little tokens instead of old school tickets. The Literacy India centre at Saket is around a five minute walk away from the metro station, a walk which took us through what Arup called ‘real Delhi’ and one which made us really appreciate why Vasant Vihar is known as one the plushest areas of the city with the cramped streets and various scattered debris a million miles away from the place we are living.

Upon arrival at the centre we were introduced to Lalit who helped set up the scheme which aims to provide education for children, and some women, who live under the poverty line. The kids at the various centres are from families with a maximum income of a few thousand rupees a month, around thirty to forty pounds, meaning they are classed as living ‘in poverty’ as opposed to the kids at IYSA who are classed as ‘economically disadvantaged’. I’m really looking forward to starting work here as it will be a completely new challenge to anything I’ve done before, I’m aiming to create a little Enfield corner of New Delhi and expect all the kids to be ending sentences with ‘init’ and ‘standard’ by the time I’m done whilst picking up a bit more Hindi on the way.

After returning home for lunch we were soon out again for another session with the IYSA kids, I took the under-14 group this time with Ali taking the under 16s B team. I was really pleased with the session the ‘Arsenal/Tottenham’ warm up, an old favourite from Holloway and John Olaleye classic went down really well as expected and after doing a session on different types of control the kids showed a marked improvement, particularly in communication, and seemed to enjoy the competitions, although I think a few of their scores may have been a bit exaggerated!

When preparing to leave after the session Ali and I had possibly the strangest experience we’ve had in India so far when two of the under16 B players asked for our autographs! Perhaps sensing our initial disbelief they insisted and so it was, a bit awkwardly I gave my two first (and possibly last) ever autographs. Leaving Nikhil and Atullya with two potential priceless, but currently absolutely worthless, souvenirs of our time here!

A surreal day was ended on a high note with a Skype conversation with Danny and Sam, two fellow coaches who’s, whilst in Kenya , relationships seems to have taken a turn to the odd, with the ‘syncing’ of certain bodily functions that should not be a team effort. A conversation about toilet habits over two continents isn’t technology wonderful!

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