The last half of 2013 was one ongoing conversation about the proposed partnership between Liverpool Football Club and our client DSK Group. We all knew that only good could come out of this relationship, however we also knew that the level of good would be contingent on the coaches which Liverpool FC selected to represent the Academy in India. This point couldn’t be hammered home any harder as I’ve seen countless projects fail in India due to the international club’s inability to identify the right type of coaches to make the trip to India. It’s not that these coaches lacked technical expertise or coaching ability, actually that’s never the case, it’s that they lacked a positive attitude and patience. I actually wrote a post about this which can be found a few months back.
The coaches selected to run the Liverpool International Football Academy DSK Shivajians, Ray and Michael, were handpicked by a trusted member of the Liverpool FC international programming staff. He had already been to India, stayed at the Academy and met the entire team so I was comfortable that he would know which type of personalities would succeed and which would struggle. However, even knowing doesn’t mean that he would find these personalities as not every coach in the UK working for one of the top clubs in the worlds is jumping up and down begging to be sent to India.
Although they have been in the country for a few months now, I met Ray and Michael for the first time (not over Skype) recently on the sidelines of the Delhi leg of the LIFA DSK trials which were being hosted at Ambedkar Stadium. When I arrived at the stadium the day before the trials for the pre-event meeting, the first thing I saw was Ray, Michael and the DSK Physio slowly walking on the pitch looking for any holes, divots, sprinkler heads or anything else which could injure a trialist or disrupt the flow of the trial in any way. I appreciated this attention to detail as I’ve seen so many other coaches ,foreign and Indian, just show up without any sort of preparation which is reflected onto the experience of the participants.
This positive first perception was only validated with every one of the multiple interactions I had with both Ray and Michael during the course of the next 3 days. Although they had been travelling extensively throughout India over the past few weeks in places like Mizoram, Shillong, Goa, Mumbai, Agra and now Delhi, they seemed fresh, positive and simply appreciative to have the opportunity to represent Liverpool FC in India. More than their positive attitudes, I was most impressed with the level of professionalism and player interaction which they included in their sessions. Anyone who saw the trial for even five minutes could see that these two coaches were genuinely interested in not only identifying quality players to join the Academy, they also wanted to raise the level of the game in India through their presence.
My favorite moments with the coaches was watching them give an inspiring talk to some of the boys from the slum program My Angles Academy and then watching them entertain the LFC supporters club Delhi at the local pub after hundreds of us watched Liverpool FC beat Norwich City to secure a spot at the top of the premier league table.
I hope both Ray and Michael continue staying positive and loving this country. If they do, I can assure you that not only LIFA DSK Shivajians will benefit, so will the development of football in this country.
|Ray addressing some of the trialists after their session|
|Michael with My Angels Academy|
|Ray and Michael with My Angels Academy|