Rob Baan: Within 10 years, India will compete against the Best in Asia!

The new technical director of the All India Football Federation Robert 'Rob' Baan has a tough mission at hand- The only question is, if Baan understands the task at hand then taking Indian football forward is a monumental assignment with all its given problems besides the massive opportunities. But he has been open when talking about his role, plans, challenges and much more...

What made you take up the Challenge of being the Technical Director of India?

I'm still too young to sit on the couch and the challenge of bringing the overall standard of Indian football to a higher level prompted me to travel to India.

Did you have any prior idea about Indian football - Club or National level?

Not really till recently when I was invited by the Qatar Football Association to make a report and watched Qatar's 2012 Olympic Qualification match against India Under-23 in Doha in July.

What will be your prime task as the Technical Director of Indian football and what will be the key areas that you will look into for the development of the game - especially at the grassroots?

We will start with establishing of the Regional Academies (for age-group 14 to 16) and Elite Centers (for age-group 16-18) where we can bring the best talents together. With our Technical Staff, we will travel around and get a first-hand impression about Indian football at all levels. After that we will focus on grassroot and organise and establish a pathway for our talents.

How different will the challenge be from your Australian experience?

It'll be a big difference for simple reason that Australia stay far ahead of India in terms of infrastructure, facilities, organisation and vision. They have also started with a Masterplan, a Curriculum and the National Youth Development Plan. During my time at the FFA (Football Federation Australia) we started with the implementation of small-sided games all over the country; a structured talent identification plan and the vision of how to play and train. The FFA also did start a National Youth League and a National Women's League along with the National Coach Education Plan.

Will be you holding regular meetings with the coaches and officials of the respective I-League clubs?

I will co-ordinate mainly with the Coaches. I will also be co-ordinating with the General Secretary of the AIFF and other staff and maybe, club officials as and when necessary.

The Dutch football system is one of the very best in the world. Can you tell us what separates it from the rest and what will you be looking to implement in India?

This is hard to answer in a short time. In principle we must learn from all countries who are successful footballing Nations and implement some of their ideas. But it must lead to a typical 'Índian Style of Play.'

The biggest debate in Indian football stays as to whether we should appoint a Foreign or an Indian Coach. What is your take on this?

We need to have someone who suits the Indian mentality. I think that coaches of the stature of Capello, Mourinho or Guardiola are not suitable (besides financial terms) for Indian football at this time. In general I'd rather go in for a Foreign Coach who has vast knowledge about Asian Football. He needs to educate his assistants who should be taking over later.

If you look at Australia, you'll find it was Pim Verbeek (Dutch) who made them qualify for South Africa 2010 and after he left, German Coach Holger Osieck took over. The sole difference stays that all his assistants are now Australian Coaches, while Pim Verbeek worked with a Dutch assistant. But it's too premature for me to comment anything on the quality of Indian coaches.

How confident are you of making a significant change?

AIFF has now started a vision which will improve the rankings in the next 4 years. The focus is now on Youth Development. Within the next 10 years, boys from the age-group of 8-12 will take India to a level where India will be able to compete against Australia, Korea or Japan.

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