We have identified some talented players: Scott O’donell

Scott O Donell the Technical Director of AIFF Academies 26NEW DELHI: Even as fans from all over the Country go gaga over AIFF Academy’s triumph in the recently concluded Subroto Cup where they lifted the Trophy from the hands of KING PELE, little did they understand that the seeds for the same were sown four years back as part of AIFF’s Academy Programme.

In an exclusive interview, the-aiff catches up with AIFF Technical Director Scott O’Donell on relevant issues concerning Youth Development in the Country.

In the first of the three-series interview, O’Donell reflects on the significance of the triumph in the Subroto Cup, the reason for fielding a Team in the Tournament, the scouting process from the Tournament and much more.

It’s always maintained that Youth Development is never about results. So what significance does the triumph in the Subroto Cup have?
It is always nice to win but it should not be the priority in Youth Development. I said to the boys before the game, that if they play the way we know they can play, then the result will take care of itself.

Winning the Subroto Cup was very pleasing for Floyd and the boys but for me the experience of playing in a competition and playing the final in front of such a big crowd and particularly in front of Pele, was extremely beneficial for the boys.

What was it about playing in front of fans?
If they are going to become professional Players they have to learn to cope with the pressure of playing finals, of playing in front opposition fans, etc. That is also part of their development.

Why did you enroll the Team in the Subroto Cup? What played on your mind?
We wanted a Competition for the boys to play in and also wanted to test them against other Teams across the Country. Remember, most of these boys were selected three years ago but due to infrastructure problems at Bangalore Stadium, they didn’t commence training until one year later.

Then due to the planned renovation of Bangalore Stadium, again the Programme was disrupted. But now they have now been settled in Goa for the last 10 months, we are now focussing on preparing for the U19 AFC Qualifiers in 2017.

What did you say to the boys?
I spoke to the boys before our first game against Bangalore and told them that this is the chance to show me and the Coaching staff that they deserve to stay in the Academy. They were up against Teams that wanted to show us that they are better than our current lot. That was their challenge and I am happy to say that we have identified some very talented Players and will be looking forward to seeing them in the coming months.

AIFF had placed their scouts in both the age-categories in the Subroto Cup. Does AIFF have specific plans for the boys whose names have been jotted down?
We have had our scouts present throughout the junior and sub junior categories of the Subroto Cup and plan to call up those boys identified for trials. We are particularly interested in the 1999 born boys for the next U19 team and 2002 born boys for our next U16 squad, but like our different age group Academies, the door will always remain open. We are always looking for better Players to strengthen our squads.

By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team