In a first, the India Senior Men’s National Team have been joined by sports psychologist Shayamal Vallabhjee, in the National camp, as they prepare for the Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar followed by the SAFF Championship in Bengaluru and other international commitments lined up till the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. Vallabhjee has previously worked on the ATP Tour, with IPL franchises and professional golfers across the world.
A renewed focus on mental health is among the Federation’s driving objectives to not just maximise potential and performances, but also create an environment of trust and togetherness among players. The addition of a sports psychologist will also address situations of burnout among players and ensure that they have recovery mechanisms available to them to work through it.
India head coach Igor Stimac is hopeful that Vallabhjee’s addition to the staff will help the team in the longer run by ‘creating a stronger team culture and a sense of belonging within the locker room’, in addition to helping them develop strategies to deal with self-confidence, concentration, and nerves under pressure, as individuals and a team.
“We will start with understanding how each player’s personality type responds to pressure and then go on to create a coaching mechanism that helps them become emotionally resilient to external pressure,” said the Croatian legend. “Conversations with a psychologist will provide the coaching staff a window into how every player absorbs information, which will then enable us to create communication strategies that optimise their learning.”
“Mr Vallabhjee has experience in sports psychology and is here to help us improve in many points we haven’t had time to work on before. Making player profiles will help the coach staff communicate better within themselves and with the team.”
Expressing excitement at his appointment with the National Team, Vallabhjee said that initial conversations with the players and the coaching staff had yielded positive results. “Players are physiologically monitored on a regular basis, with every aspect of their physical wellbeing scrutinised and worked on. It is important to do the same for them psychologically. I am proud to be part of a new Indian Football project and hope to help them achieve success here,” he said.