Mon. Jul 15th, 2024
'Indian football must focus on grassroots development': Tomasz Tchorz

In the ever-evolving world of football, nurturing young talent is as crucial as winning trophies. Particularly in Indian football, where the talent pool is shrinking and the market is saturated, making the development of homegrown players essential for the ecosystem.

At Kerala Blasters, this vital task is spearheaded by Tomasz Tchorz, the head coach of the reserve team and Head of Youth Development.

Under his guidance, the Blasters’ reserves have reached the Reliance Foundation Development League final and faced Premier League reserve teams in the Next Gen Cup, showcasing their potential on international platforms.

Moreover, Tchorz has been instrumental in developing key players like Mohammed Aimen, Azhar, Vibin Mohanan, and Sachin Suresh, who have donned the first team colors.

The Bridge sat down with the man behind this remarkable journey to understand his philosophy and vision for nurturing young talent for an exclusive interview.

Vision for Indian Football

Reflecting on the future of Indian football, Tchorz is optimistic yet pragmatic.

“India is at a critical juncture where more focus is needed on grassroots development. It’s essential to hire motivated and passionate individuals who genuinely want to contribute to Indian football’s growth. Initially, famous players and coaches were necessary to generate interest, but now it’s time to select people based on their dedication and potential to develop young talent. Hard work, discipline, and passion are vital for progress. The focus should be on daily improvement and creating a robust foundation for the future,” he says.

Tomasz with the team (Photo credit: Special arrangement)

Tomasz with the team (Photo credit: Special arrangement)

Tchorz emphasizes the need for proper selection and scouting of people working with young players.

“You need to hire people who have value, motivation, passion, and who are hungry to achieve something. The selection of people who will work with the grassroots and youth is crucial. It’s not an easy job, especially for those coming to India from other countries. But with dedication and hard work, significant progress can be made,” he is optimistic.

Understanding the game

“For me, the primary focus is on understanding the game,” Tchorz says explaining his passion for the game.

“I look at how players perceive specific moments in the game, why things happen, and how they respond. The awareness and understanding of the game’s situations are paramount. Technical abilities, physical preparation, and mentality all play a role, but they must align with the context of the game. A player’s effectiveness is determined by how they utilize their attributes in specific game situations. Our training process is guided by these game scenarios, aiming to improve players’ responses to various situations,” he says.

Tchorz emphasizes that a player cannot be divided into specific elements or attributes but must be seen as a whole.

“A player spending time in the game, with or without the ball, is in a specific situation and has to be effective. To be successful, a player must find ways to act using their technical, mental, and physical attributes. Everything in my understanding of the training process relates to the situations that happen in the game and how to solve these situations,” he adds.

I have always aimed to unite people from different social classes, inspired by leaders who were close to the people.

Thus, coaching a team in @KeralaBlasters is not just a job for me but a mission.

I love the Gulf as I love India. We are all Yellow Army with Yellow hearts! 💛 pic.twitter.com/otnMIJ0OkL

— Tomasz Tchórz (@TTchorz) May 20, 2024

The importance of discipline and focus

Discipline and focus are crucial, especially for young players who aspire to make football their profession. Tchorz believes in being honest with players, explaining the reality of their situation, and helping them understand their roles and responsibilities.

“Emotions can sometimes disrupt focus, but our approach is to support players by being close to them and helping them regain their discipline,” he explains. “Honesty and clear communication are key. By presenting the reality and working together, we can help players stay focused and disciplined.”

“For me, the coach is like a person who is explaining reality to the player. I don’t like to be the coach who manipulates the emotions of the players. I think if we are close to the player, if we are honest with players, and if we explain the reality, we can come back with this focus and the discipline that players should always present,” he continues.

Preparing for the transition to the main team

The transition from youth to the main team is one of the most challenging phases in a player’s career, especially with the pressures at a club like Kerala Blasters. Tchorz emphasizes the importance of staying calm.

“We explain the challenges and expectations of playing for Kerala Blasters, highlighting the passionate and demanding fan base. We also create various scenarios for players to experience different emotions and situations. This helps them develop resilience and adaptability. We manipulate the circumstances, not the players, to provide real-world experiences that prepare them for the pressures of senior team football. By creating a supportive environment and being there for them, we help players navigate this transition effectively.”

Tomasz Tchorz

Tomasz Tchorz

“Sometimes we see that a player is ready from the football perspective, but they need to experience different scenarios to handle the emotional aspects. We try to find methods to help them deal with certain scenarios. For example, when we see that a player is very motivated, but sometimes even over-motivated, we try to find a way to calm him down. We create scenarios in which a player can find himself, provoking emotions and thoughts. In the end, we are there close to the player to give support if these emotions are very difficult to deal with,” Tchorz explains.

The case of Vibin Mohanan

Vibin Mohanan, developed under Tchorz’s guidance, has demonstrated exceptional technical skills and game awareness akin to European players. Tchorz believes that every player is different.

“Some are born with certain abilities, while others learn them quickly due to their potential. Vibin has a natural awareness and peripheral vision, allowing him to make effective decisions on the field. Scanning the field is crucial, and understanding the game enhances this ability. We focus on improving players’ declarative knowledge, helping them verbalize and understand game situations. This, in turn, improves their scanning ability during the game. Vibin was born with this talent, and our role is to nurture and enhance it,” he explains.

“When I met coach Arsene Wenger, he told me that amongst other features, scanning is one of the crucial aspects in terms of evaluating a player’s potential. Understanding the game is key to improving scanning. We can divide understanding of the game into declarative and procedural categories. The declarative category means that the player can explain verbally what happens in the game, while the procedural category means the player is efficient in the game without necessarily being able to explain it. Spending more time on declarative knowledge helps players improve their scanning ability,” the 32-year-old says.

Creating a supportive environment

As the conversation grew deeper into Tchorz’s philosophy, it became clear that his approach is both holistic and systematic. He views football as an intricate combination of moments, each requiring a unique blend of technical skill, mental acuity, and physical attributes.

“A player’s effectiveness is determined by how they utilize their attributes in specific game situations,” he reiterates. “Our training process is guided by these game scenarios, aiming to improve players’ responses to various situations.”

“Hard work, discipline, and passion are vital for progress,” he concludes. “The focus should be on daily improvement and creating a robust foundation for the future.”

With leaders like Tomasz Tchorz at the helm, the future of Indian football looks bright, promising a new generation of players ready to take on the world stage.

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By TFW

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