Also Read : Mahatma Gandhi Has Been A Huge Inspiration In My Life : Luis Norton de Matos
India’s U-17 World Cup coach Luis Norton de Matos has been “impressed with the attitude of the boys.” In the second part of the interview, Norton speaks about the attitude of the boys, the time left for the World Cup, his Indian connection and much more. EXCERPTS:
What is your first impression of the boys?
Prior to coming to India, I had watched some highlights of the Team but as you understand, it's entirely different when you see the boys on the pitch yourself and what you see in a highlight package on the internet. I started training my boys only last week and to be honest, it’s too early to have an impression about them.
What have you seen so far?
In the few training sessions which I have had so far, I have seen the boys giving their heart and soul to the practice sessions. They have never shied away at any time and it is always so good for a Coach that they want to learn. I have found that they are a bundle of energy and are very eager to contribute something to Indian Football history.
You came on board with just eight months left for the tournament. How challenging is the task on hand?
Personally, it is a big challenge for me. But as a Coach, I am confident in my philosophy for the development of Indian players and Football in the long run. As I have already said, it’s now only about the World Cup but about India’s vision for the future.
Is it enough to prepare the team?
I feel eight months is a long time to prepare a team. You could have been a bit concerned if you had just two months in your hand. But when you stay and train together for the next eight months, to me it’s not much of a concern. I think time is not our biggest enemy.
Are the boys willing to learn?
The attitude of the boys has impressed me very much. As young players, I have found out that they are willing to learn. That’s most important to me. Make no mistake, I am a very hard task master but the boys have lived up to my expectations.
What prompted you to take up the coaching job of the Indian U-17 team.
I like coaching young players and am always prepared for different challenges in life. That’s why I am into Football because, at every step, football provides you challenges and burdens you with responsibility. I cannot live without that. I also want to contribute in a small manner to AIFF’s vision in developing and promoting Football. I am ready to fight for even the slightest of chances and will always do that.
You have said that you do have an Indian connection as your great grandfather was born in Goa. Anything you heard about Indian football before taking up this assignment.
India is a sentimental name in my family. I have been hearing about India since my childhood as the brother of my great-grandfather was born here. I have so many stories about and had always cherished a dream of being here. I even remember during one of those early Christmas day parties back in Portugal tears rolled down my cheeks as the Indian curry was too spicy for me.
It’s amazing that I am here. It is a special and positive atmosphere and whatever little I have moved around in Goa, its reminds me of my home. Goa, after all, was a Portuguese colony and there are many who speak the language too. My family is very happy that I am here. I have worked in Africa and Europe but this is a special place for me. Only the other day, two of my family doctors were on a vacation to Goa and told me that it was one of the best holidays which they ever had.
But I hadn’t heard much about Indian Football except for seeing some highlights of the team which I am coaching.