by Mervin LR
Vidyasagar holds an AIFF D license coach and alongside his role as Director at the Raman Sports Academy. He is one of the main reasons why their academy is so successful.
As a late-comer to football, Vidyasagar got introduced into the coaching circuit through his friend Ganesha. He believes in football as a tool to teach life skills and it has led him on a journey of coaching.
The RSA Academy excessively focuses on training their player in technical football with great importance given to passing techniques. Not only that, the academy job involves recognizing the potential of youngsters and nurturing them with utmost care. And when a particular player makes it to the highest level, it is their hard work that reflects in his style of play.
Vidyasagar joins us to discuss how the academy is trying to develop players for the future, analysing football trends and innovating in what is fast becoming the hot bed of youth football in Bengaluru. He talks session design, philosophy, challenges in youth football and more.
Please give us a brief introduction about yourself both as a player and as a coach. And what fuelled your passion for football?
During my childhood the game that I played and loved was cricket. Only at the age of 18, I started playing football as a hobby. LRDE, a Government organization spotted me playing at DRDO one evening and they asked me to come for a trial for a week and then rest is history.
I have played for LRDE which was in the A-division for 5 years and 4 years for Bangalore Independents, which is in the super division. I used to work for IBM, I was so mad about the opportunity I got in LRDE that I opted for night shifts and after the shift end, I used to return home at 5 am; sleep for two hours and then wake up for practice at 7 am that’s how much passion I had for the beautiful game.
I am a late comer to football, coaching was an accident which happened in 2012. Ganesha who’s my childhood friend did a free coaching camp in Decathlon and got an opportunity to coach for Brigade Metropolis.
The motive behind starting coaching was, we did not have the financial backing to support the talent we had in DRDO CV RAMAN NAGAR to play tournaments in Bangalore. We used to play some beautiful football; we had the mix of experience and youth in the team and won lot of tournaments.
This was a much needed exposure for our kids and they have transformed into good footballers with the right guidance from our coaches. We have few examples with Niketh being on top of the talent list making it to the Under-16 Indian National Team. Heman, Vishnu, Nishant, Ranjit, Bharat, Parth, Swayam Mustafa and Anshuman playing in the biggest clubs in Bangalore currently.
To be frank football started as a hobby and then transformed into something larger than life, today football has given me everything and will continue the same in the future. Raman Academy is run by richly talented passionate pool of people who is Mr.Suraj, Mr.Ganesha and myself with the support of 15.
When did you realise you had a talent for coaching and who or what influenced your decision to become a coach, do you have any role models who continue to inspire you?
Initially, when Ganesha came to me and told me he’s got an offer to coach and he asked me to join him I just smiled and walked away since I didn’t have any idea about coaching. After a month again, Ganesha approached me and somehow convinced me to join him and then the beautiful journey started.
People started respecting both of us for the great work we are doing as coaches parent started motivating and educating us telling that the kids listen to us more than anyone. All this acted as a catalyst for both us to do better and better every day we stepped onto the ground.
My role models are all my coaches at Raman Sports Academy the dedication, determination and discipline they work which impresses me to do better. So I have to thank Mr.Ganesha for making me realize that I can be a good coach if I do the basics right. I still remember sitting in office and learning stuff on internet regarding coaching which helped me lot. Working with kids is the best part.
How would you describe yourself as a coach and what playing style are you hoping to achieve Raman Sports Academy? How would you describe your coaching style?
Calm, cool, collective with controlled aggression. Raman sports Academy works on possession football. ‘Keep the ball’ we call it. Pass receive and move. Ball retention both for individual and team. You need the ball to score and the other team cannot score without the ball.
Autocratic – this is where the coach makes all the decisions and the performers merely do what they are told. This coach will be a strong disciplinarian and likes to be in control. Implicit in this style is that the coach has all the information and the knowledge.
What, in your opinion, makes football a great sport for children?
Football teaches children important life lessons like time management communication, commitment, integrity and emotion which they can’t learn sitting at home or in school.
What’s your role in Raman Sport Academy? What’s your expectation from the team this season?
I am the Director of Raman Sports Academy, my expectation this season would again be emphasis on player development and making sure the kids go back home satisfied and come back the next day with the same zeal to train.
What are the special features of RSA that makes it stand out from other academies?
Passion all the way.
Please describe a day in your work?
Time just flies, all the coaches meet in the morning at our facility in Indiranagar to brainstorm on improvements required in the academy. Everyone have their own set of roles and responsibilities which is defined for the betterment of Individual and the academy.
What kind of a response have you got from students and parents?
Parents and students are my backbone of the little bit of success I have got today, always been motivating and humble. I am full time into coaching because of a parent who came to me and told I have seen you train with so much passion why don’t you do it full time and told he would support how much ever he can from his end. So today we all are full time into coaching and doing good. The gentlemen’s name is Mr.Ashish Shrivastav.
What is your take on the youth developments and grassroots foundation in Raman Sports Academy?
Grassroots football is a child’s first introduction to football, which is not properly taken care of in India. When children from football-crazy states like Kerala, Bengal and North-East start playing football from early ages but are not provided with enough technical guidance and coaching, the children from other states are not even provided that opportunity to get connected with football.
Training given from smaller ages can have a great impact on a player’s future development. This is what all the European countries have been following.
Raman Sports academy works with kids at younger age and laying strong foundation and instill in them the passion to make it to the bigger stage. Not everyone are going to make it to the bigger stage though, but they will all learn life lessons which is going stay with them for the rest of their lives.
What factors do you feel are vital in helping players make the jump from state to national side?
Ambition, passion, never says die attitude, hard work, commitment, and off course a little bit of luck. Injury prevention, nutrition, football conditioning and sports psychology.
What would you say has been your greatest success to date?
With pride I will say formation of Raman Sports Academy and playing the AIFF Youth Leagues for Under-13 and Under-15.
In your opinion, what makes India as a footballing country inferior to other European countries?
Investment and Infrastructure.
What steps do you think are necessary at the youth level for Indian football to progress?
I think youth football in India has grown in leaps and bounds in recent times. Emphasis on grassroots and youth development should be primary and everything else will fall in place.
What is next for you and your team?
Formation of Under-18 I league team and senior team. Development of girls football and for sure youth development. Finally would like to say I am blessed and fortunate since Raman Sports Academy is run by richly talented passionate pool of people who is Mr. Suraj, Mr. Ganesha, with the support of 15 trustworthy coaches.
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