Raman Vijayan: Academies will shape the future

Former Indian international striker Raman Vijayan is now the coach of Bangalore's KGF Academy, the professional football team of BEML (EM). The Bangalore-based Public Sector Unit is the only PSU in India who have formed a company as per the AFC Pro League guidelines. Raman is with his side in Delhi for the preliminary round of the 2nd Division I-League and spoke to the AIFF Media Team.

How would you translate your journey from a striker to a coach?

I would say both have entirely different dimensions. While being a player you don’t have much responsibility; all you have to do is to concentrate on your game and give your 100 percent on the field. But as a coach you have to look after so many aspects - it's a very difficult and challenging job.

I feel more emphasis should be given to impart modern Coaching Techniques for Indian Coaches.

Former team mate Baichung Bhutia is a player-cum-administrator for United Sikkim FC. What’s your take?

Baichung is a great ambassador of the game! I feel privileged that I played alongside him at club and international level. Judging by his ability, I'm confident he will be successful in his new endeavour. Baichung has always been a determined person.

Being a striker yourself, why do you think that foreign strikers are overshadowing local Indian talent?

There are so many foreign recruits presently playing in India and I strongly believe they have helped in increasing the standard of the game. But at the same time, many local talents go waste as most of them sit out warming the bench.

Where do you see Indian Football heading towards?

There's a lot of buzz and activity going on at the grassroots. The AIFF’s decision to launch the regional Academies and the Elite Academies is the best thing to have happened to Indian football in the recent past. The process of selection in the Under-14 Football Fest in Kalyani and the Mir Iqbal Hussain Trophy needs to be lauded. The Academies will shape the future.

You need to remember, a lot has changed for the senior national team since our playing days. Nowadays, the players stay well, travel well and get so many international matches to play. It wasn't the case during our time.

Unlike in the past, there are not many star footballers from Southern India at present. What do you attribute it to?

Unlike Kolkata and Goa, most parts in South India don’t have a (local) professional league. There is no dearth of good players in the region but they need a platform to play.

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