Interview Of Bino George
At the start of the I-League season when the news of a new club from Kerala officially came out, it was like a breathe of fresh air for Indian football. Gokulam Kerala FC, the corporate club from Kerala in it’s short period of existence in top flight has started to show signs of promise both on and off-the-field.
The team has ended 7th in it’s first season in I-League defying the opinions of the critics and the man who probably deserves the lion’s share of credit for their on-the-field merit is none other than Bino George. Although Khogen Singh has lifted the title with Minerva and Gift Raikhan did a great job with NEROCA but according to many keen observers of Indian football, it was Bino George who was the star man of the show and made his team play beautiful brand of football even against the toughest opponents.
Talk Sports 24X7 decided to catch-up with Bino George and get to know more from the man himself.
● TS 24X7: First of all congratulations Bino for the wonderful journey you have had with Gokulam Kerala FC! After the initial hiccups in the first phase of the season, your team has been rejuvenated off late. How did this change occur?
○ Bino George: People who followed our games since the beginning of the season knew that we weren’t an inferior side. Our performance on the games lost wasn’t bad either. The main factor that lacked compared to other teams was the foreign signings. Unfortunately, most of our foreigners were ruled out in the middle of the season due to certain injuries. Once the January transfer window was open, we utilised it to the best that we could. The same goes in the case of signing Indian players. All players were sold through the ISL draft system and the unsold were also was signed by the other I-league clubs. Delay in winning the bid led us in lack of time to sign and prepare.
●TS 24X7: After beating NorthEast United in the Super Cup Qualifiers now Gokulam is to take on BFC, arguably the best team in India at the moment. How confident are you about the tie?
○ Bino George: Bengaluru FC is one of the best teams currently in India. They have retained most of their players and has been practising together for some time now. Even their reserves are doing good but that doesn’t concern us. This is football and we will bring our best against them. We are working on new tactics against them. All our results are because of our hard works and we will keep doing it at our best. Big or small team, our boys are confident enough to take on BFC. We have shown our confidence level against some of the big clubs in India. We are hoping for a positive result and give a pleasant gift to the people of Kerala.
● TS 24X7: On a lighter note, you were quoted in some portals after the Minerva game in I-League where you said about Khalid Jamil saying you something at the end of the East Bengal match. Although most took it on a lighter note but some even criticised Jamil for that. What did actually happen?
○Bino George: After the east Bengal match, Khalid and I had a friendly talk. He expressed his disappointment for not gaining any points from the match. Later Alvito D’cunha from East Bengal came and told me to spoil Minerva’s run. We knew that East Bengal was never an easy side and we replied saying that we will do our best and we did have a positive result at home.
● TS 24X7: Mr. Fernando Andres Santiago Varela would take charge of Gokulam Kerala FC from next season. But Club President Mr. Praveen has shown much faith on you and has said that you will be promoted and would be kept attached with the set-up of the club. How are you looking forward to that and working together with the new coach?
○ Bino George: The reason for the new coach is that I will be taking a few months break. I have decided to do a course and then get married. It will be difficult for me to handle all together and the club will eventually become my first preference too. Yes, there is a promotion as Technical Director waiting and it’s going to be more difficult than earlier and I’m ready for it. We are delighted to have Mr Fernardo on board. He has a lot of experience in Europe and hopefully, in future, we will work together.
● TS 24X7: As a person who is closely attached to Kerala football and footballers, how would you explain the present state of Kerala football from the grassroots to the top and whether Gokulam Kerala FC can play a crucial role in it?
○ Bino George : We are building up a strong academy where the kids will get all the facilities. When we won the bid, AIFF asked to invest 10cr in development and we are working very hard towards it. We have set up a women’s football team with two foreign players for the Women’s league. No other I-league or ISL club has a Women’s team participating.
● TS 24X7: Kerala has previously had representation in the top flight but most of them had to shut down for financial difficulties. In many parts of India, the same has happened with many prominent names. As a person who is associated with this new club from Kerala, do you feel that Gokulam Kerala would be able to stand tall against such challenges especially in a market where ‘Money talks’?
○ Bino George: Yes, there were plenty of clubs from Kerala which had to shut down due to financial difficulties. During my time in FC Kochin, I realized the main reason was they lacked proper branding. None of the clubs had appointed staffs on how to promote the club and get sponsorships. This resulted in lower fan base also. Take a look at Bengaluru FC, they have each staff at each department. Gokulam Kerala FC is owned by a big corporate company. The financial status is good and our President Mr. Praveen is extremely passionate about football. We are eyeing to play in ISL in future also. Gokulam will have their own football stadium and other facilities in coming years. Iwould like to thank Kerala Blasters at this moment also. They have earned a lot of fans. Since their inception in 2014, the football culture has changed by a huge margin. Lots of parents have started watching football along with their kids. They have started sending their kids to train and choose football as a career unlike before we used to see only doctors or engineers. Now lots of Academies have started in Kerala like Red Star FC, Prodigy, KBFC academy, Parapoor FC etc.
● TS 24X7: As a prominent Indian football coach, how do you see the future of Indian coaches? Cause most of the clubs are seen preferring foreign coaches and in case of ISL, the top body is enforcing an unofficial dictum that no Indian coaches are getting approval to take the helm of their franchises! Is the development of Indian football possible without enough qualified and experienced Indian coaches?
○ Bino George: Well, there are a lot of talented Indian coaches right now. Indian coaches are more suitable than any other foreign coaches because We have a better knowledge of how much talented our boys are. Foreign coaches can only create results if they have outstanding players. Since the grassroots level is not up to the mark, the subjects are also poor. If the subject for coaching improves, yes they do have the talent to build a workouts session and good tactics. Unlike earlier, lots of people are qualifying as B, A and Pro license coaches in India.
● TS 24X7: There have been many criticisms regarding the standard of refereeing in I-League this season. Do you feel the same?
○ Bino George : We all agree the fact that the quality of refereeing in both I-league and ISL was poor and I don’t blame them. If the referees have good facilities, travel and salaries like in Europe, we can get more referees who are equally talented and passionate about football and makes the competition harder. Since both the leagues were functioning at the same time this season, the availability of referees was also a major issue and was difficult to post a referee from one end of the country to another.So referees that were available in the state was chosen.
● TS 24X7: From a promising footballer to now an established coach. How would you explain the transition of Bino George? Let us bit talk through it.
○ Bino George: After my playing career, I joined Viva Kerala at the age of 32 as the assistant coach and worked for 7 years. My main motivation in choosing to be a coach was to take talented players from Kerala and all over India to the highest level. During my prime time, ten players from Kerala police including IM Vijayan, VP Sathyan, Jo Paul Ancheri used to play for Indian National team. So my question was how to bring talented players in India. So then we developed players like Sabeeth, Zakeer, Denson, CK Vineeth, Rehenesh TP, Sabas Saleel. Later on, I realized that I need to go in depth and know more about the world of coaching. Football is a unique sport and every day the sports gets updated on ways of techniques and tactics. After the experience from Viva Kerala, I took my C, D, B, A and AFC Pro license. My knowledge gradually increased on what a player needs and how to act in certain situations. I concentrated more on player development. A coach plays a vital role in developing a player. I have dedicated my entire life to football because of my passion and I’m giving my best in it.
● TS 24X7: Final question, bit hypothetical. In 10 years time from now, where would you like to see yourself?
○ Bino George: I would love to see myself coaching a European club, especially from England or Germany. The main reason is to gain the experience and it’s my biggest ever dream to coach our Indian national team because I am confident that I can bring a change in our national team. I have a different style of play rather than a kick and run game. I try to bring beauty in football like we see in any EPL or Bundesliga club plays and I believe it make people love our games too.
● TS 24X7: Thanks Bino for your time!
○ Bino George : Thanks!