After a terrific season with North East United FC on his first stint in ISL, Dutchman Eelco Schattorie has taken up a new challenge with Kerala Blasters as he has been announced the new head coach of the Kochi based ISL franchise for the upcoming season. It seems the Blasters management has put their all faith on Schattorie to revamp Kerala back to the level they deserve to be.
Talk Sports 24×7 talked to Eelco Schattorie over his new stint and development of Indian football.
•TS 24×7: How excited are you and what’s your take on being the new coach of Kerala Blasters FC?
● Eelco: First of all it’s a big honour to be the coach of Kerala Blasters. It’s a big club with a huge fan base. Last week I was in Dubai and even in Dubai some people inside the mall walked up to me being Kerala Blasters Fans so it shows how big their fan base is as that’s always an honour and I love clubs that have a huge fan base because you play football for the fans.
I am excited to start and try to bring Kerala back to top where it belongs. Blasters had two good seasons as they reached the finals twice but last two seasons were not so successful, so I am looking forward to bring them back to the place where they belong.
• TS24x7: So what made you choose Kerala Blasters over North East United FC?
● Eelco: Initially I had a contract of two years with North East United FC but they decided to break the contact with me as the management wanted to go a different direction. It’s a bit strange but its fine as we shook hands on a good note I guess. I was hoping for the national team next as I was enlisted as a candidate and in the football circuits rumours were on that I was short listed too, but unfortunately it didn’t go through.
Then Kerala came along and they as a club you know I told before have a big fan base and have a good backyard with talented players. So that was basically an easy step to make as we get to Kerala and had a meeting with the management. The officials out there were very open, very eager to communicate and work with each other and that’s something I prefer too.
• TS24x7: The special thing that attracted you to Kerala Blasters FC while being the North East United FC gaffer?
●Eelco: The most important thing is that there are few teams within ISL that have huge fan base. Goa and North east has a decent fan base. Although I think last season there should have been more supporters for North east, but the ones that came really supported the club and me a lot.
Kerala is one of those clubs that have a huge fan base. On the other hand the logo of their club is a huge elephant that stands for power got me a special feeling for the team and obviously Sahal one of the talents from the Kerala backyard who was already in the team impressed me and gave me a good feeling because I like creative football players.
Now I will love to contribute to bring him to a higher level, but eventually what decided for me to sign is the management. Mr. Prasad one of the owners of the Blasters who is really a very nice guy and an entrepreneur gave me a very good feeling and the communication on working together and making plans together impressed me as that’s a very important thing in modern day football.
• TS24x7: What are the reasons according to you that lead to Blasters’ failure in the past seasons?
● Eelco: I don’t think I should look back and can be involved in what happened in the last two seasons. I have my own ideas and these are just ideas as I was not there to be on the ground or be in the club to see what’s exactly happening.
One of the key things I think to keep it general and without being too critical maybe the playing style that was brought in by the last two coaches was not permitting with the supporters. That could be a reason but again that is an observation from outside and the only thing I at this stage as a general observer can say might be the reason but I don’t think its relevant.
We need to look forward and hopefully bring to the supporters a playing style that they can feel associated with and we can give them success this way.
• TS24x7: You did a terrific job with North East United FC in the last season as you took them to the playoffs for the first time in ISL history. What are the secrets and USP to achieve success in this new mission?
● Eelco: There are no such secrets it’s just a matter of making the puzzles fit trying to have characters in the team who want to work hard.
I tried to implement a brand of football that try to dominate try to be progressive and I am working hard now at this moment to form the team with Kerala. Before my arrival three players were signed and I am very happy with the players signed already and now we are on the signings of four foreign players and the Indian players majority have been retained as they have a lot of talents. So its a matter of trying to find a good connection together and play a brand of football I like.
Firstly most players that I had always worked with in clubs, like my style of football that always helps not about leaning back and defending rather it’s about playing progressive football, and I think my quality as a coach is to make that brand of football to happen.
Secondly I prefer most players playing in their quality as I don’t like players to fulfil roles they are not happy with. So it’s my role to link every player as much as possible so that they use quality and play a role that fulfil the clubs goal and flourish.
• TS24x7: What’s your take on the newly selected head coach of Indian Football Team as you were also in the race?
● Eelco: The only thing that I can say about the coach is that I want to be supportive as I think India needs to make a few steps forward in football. It’s not an easy job and I hope that the coach is well in form starting at his job and knows where and which directions to go.
It’s not a normal national team job like in Europe where every team basically is settled and all the infrastructures behind are better, but here in India you have to do some extra work and have to be a bit more creative in order to succeed and I hope this coach will find the way to bring the team in new higher heights as that overall will be good for Indian football.
• TS24x7: Do you think “regular and well managed grass root programme” is the key to ultimate success for Indian Football?
● Eelco: It’s not only for India because if a nation wants to develop in top they need to start from the bottom.
For instance India has got a huge level in education and technology as there are a lot of schools in India and people here get educated thus making the nation grow. That’s the same for football, if you really want to grow at the top you have to start from the bottom that is the grass roots. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius and those grassroots programs can improve on all levels of India and hopefully they will and that eventually should bring you the success.
• TS24x7: Eelco, as you have been long associated with Indian Football, what are the things or changes need to be done, that can lead Indian Football to glory?
● Eelco: I think there a few key points starting with the very simple one being patient, you can’t plant a seed and expect a tree to grow and give fruits tomorrow so anything takes time and it is in the starting point. More specifically the huge grassroots already started should be properly developed and each club should have a youth academy and progression is important for both levels.
Chance to play a cup or league is the only way for a player to develop himself as it’s the only platform to play games or perform competitively. So if you compare ISL where we play eighteen games in one season to any European club football where a minimum of thirty games are played, it’s not fair here at India which needs to be changed. I would say that in order to have a decent development of a player you should have a minimum of thirty five to forty games in a year. Because for instance when the ISL is finished the most players don’t keep themselves in the game and there you are far behind than many national teams or leagues where you lose few months of development. It’s a very crucial point.