The Indian Arrows have been the flavour of the season with some credible performances in the I-League. The YDP project of AIFF which comprises of the nucleus of boys from the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup – India, and even some 16-year olds had 11 call ups to the U-23 National Camp for the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers. In an interview, Head Coach Floyd Pinto speaks at length about the potential of youth football, the forthcoming Super Cup, Mahesh Gawli’s contribution, and much more.
21 points in the I-League. How much satisfying is that?
It is a testament to the potential of youth in Football.
What has been the hallmark of the Indian Arrows this season?
Surpassing last season’s numbers was a good feeling indeed. Ending the season with a win against mighty Mohun Bagan at the majestic Saltlake Stadium was an indicator that the boys are ready to compete at the highest level against the best teams in the Country.
What is the significance of the Super Cup to you, and the boys?
The Super Cup is another opportunity and platform to showcase the abundance of talent, capability and ever-improving competency of this youthful Indian Arrows side. The boys truly believe that they are in it to compete, and not just make up the numbers.
11 boys were summoned to the U-23 Camp. As their coach, what’s your reaction?
We felt a sense of pride and achievement. It is the next logical step in their development towards the goal of representing the Country at the senior level. We hope that all 11 make it through to the final squad for the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers in Uzbekistan, and help India qualify for the final round, and beyond.
There is a whole lot of U-17 boys in your squad. Are they ready to be men? Or already men?
We played in a professional league, and in a very competitive environment. Our motto at the Indian Arrows is simple – “If you are good enough, you are old enough.” Judging by our performance this season, we have justified our philosophy.
What has Mahesh Gawali’s contribution been?
He has brought in experience of the highest level. He has always had a calm influence under pressure, and robust work ethic to the Indian Arrows setup.
The Indian Arrows have been based in Odisha. How good are the facilities here?
Thanks to the Government of Odisha, we have an ideal environment to develop the full potential of the best youth players in the Country. Be it the match venue, training facilities, accommodation, food and travel, we have been made to feel at home away from home.