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.