Saturday was our busiest in Delhi so far, we walked to the ground for 10am to meet three of the level one under16s players- who are undefeated this year- who offered to show us some of the sights of Delhi whilst the other coaches had work. So, joined by Ashish (Left Back, Real Madrid fan), Amit (Centre Back, as far as I could tell, Neymar fan) and Saugat (Centre Midfield, Barcelona) we started by going to Qutub Minar which the boys had obviously done some revision on, letting us know it was 379 steps to the top and 72.5 meters tall, the complex also contained various other pieces of ancient architecture including an iron pillar which, Ashish told us, if wrap your arms around and make a wish it will come true, unfortunately a fence stopped me testing the truth of that legend. After Qutub Minar we were back in the taxi and taken to Dilli Haat after being asked about our footballing idols by the boys, who, apart from Amit, said theirs was Cristiano Ronaldo, Ali went for Thierry Henry whilst I went for Cesc before hurriedly changing it to Xabi Alonso due to our shared love of the ‘diag’. Dilli Haat is basically a big craft market in which each state of India is represented, we are reliably informed by the boys that there is 28 in all. We then moved on to photo opportunities at the Indian Parliament and India Gate, a war memorial in the centre of Delhi which we couldnt get close to due to preparations for the Republic Day parade on the 26th of January,where Indian armed forces parade through the city, which hopefully Ali and I will be able to see. The final stop on our tour was the spectacular Humayun’s Tomb which as far as I can tell is a sort of miniature Taj Mahal, which is pretty impressive given the size of it.
After being dropped off from our tour we were pretty much straight to the training ground for our first session with the u11s. As it was our first session we decided we would do some basic dribbling drills encouraging them to keep there heads up, starting with ‘traffic lights’ in which each colour cone we held up represented a different task for them to do, an idea they generally got the hang of after a few demos and tranlsations from the various coaches, we ended this drill with a knockout competition, which was all the boy who won could talk about for the rest of the day/weekend. We then moved on to ‘skills corridor’ which worked really well with the kids demonstrating a real willingness to learn, generally good technique and an enthusiasm which was fantastic. All in all I felt for a first session it went really well with all the kids leaving with smiles on their faces and, despite language difficulties, the majority being able to repeat at least some of the coaching points. We were also welcomed to the programme with the official New Delhi Josh song, sung enthusiastically by all the kids and which i’ll try to put up on here as when you hear it you’ll definitely become a fan!
After our session we were introduced to Rupen and his Girlfriend, Rupen is another Arsenal coach in Delhi who has been linked to the project for the last few months, they Joined Arup, Ali, Anuj, Vinod and I for dinner in a mall in Vasant Kunj, around 10 minutes drive from our apartment. The mall was totally unlike anything I expected when coming to Delhi, after being warned about the poverty and hustle and bustle of the place this was a completely different world. When we arrived we were shown around the shops, most of which were household names in the UK, Nike, FCUK, Zara etc before going to the arcade where I was on the end of possibly the most one sided defeat in the history of air hockey at the hands of Ali before securing a noble victory, via own goal, in my second game against Rupen’s girlfriend. We were then taken to the food court where we decided against Pizza Hut and went to a mexican restaurant for dinner, discussing Arsenal’s season and being told that this mall was neighboured by two others and was the most downmarket of the three.
On Sunday we got our first taste of IYSA league action, Ali and I were tasked with taking the warm ups before watching the games in which we saw a lot of good football, outrageous goalkeeping and one absolutely classic bundle of a goal celebration, some highlights included Amit’s team (Ten Hurricanes) coming from behind to beat an undermanned Eleven Aces, for whom Saugat bossed the midfield, a 5-2 victory for the under 14 Eleven Aces against the Hurricanes with a hat-trick from ‘Gatu’ an outrageously skillful 13 year old named after the AC milan enforcer and, after praising the performance of one under11, being told it was all because of what we taught him yesterday, proving that lies and flattery will get you everywhere.
Finally our first free afternoon on sunday was spent walking into priya complex, a cinema/shopping street near our apartment where we had our first beer in India in the ‘Manchester United Bar and Restaurant’ which was unbelievable, even the stirrers had red devils on them. After working out we were Arsenal fans the barman invited us back for the 22nd where its safe to say we will be in a minority, can’t wait!
Hope everything is ok back in England, now im off to find a way to watch Arsenal Swansea..