India’s almost 9,000-strong football coaches’ community is going through torrid times, with many of them out of work or forced to choose other means for a living.
Football coaches have turned vegetable vendors in some places, others are becoming delivery boys. Without football – and it doesn’t look too encouraging for the future too – most don’t know how they will make ends meet, so it’s up to the Association of Indian Football Coaches (AIFC) to do its bit.
The AIFC has launched the Covid-19 Coach Stimulus Program, an initiative backed by Sporting Lions Foundation and GiveIndia Foundation, which will ensure that 1,000 football coaches get support for the next three months.
The support, according to AIFC director Dinesh Nair, will be in the form of a food package that will contain rice, sugar, pulses and oil, good enough to support a family of four for at least a month.
“We are also adding masks and sanitisers to that list. It’s important that we focus on their safety in times of the pandemic. We will ensure that the coaches have enough for the next three months,” said Nair.According to records, India has 8,796 registered coaches, with 6,577 of them having the basic D coaching licence.
When the coronavirus pandemic broke out and brought sporting activities to a standstill, nobody imagined it would be so destructive. Things are still not looking good, and while AIFC has done well to keep the coaches engaged with several online courses and one session with former France coach Raymond Domenech, the needs at home are far more pressing.
“AIFC is formed for the welfare of our coaches, not just to conduct workshops, conferences or webinars. We have to help and support during times like these,” said Nair, while requesting the football community to lend a helping hand. Since then, India’s leading footballers like Sandesh Jhingan, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Jeje Lalpekhlua have all come out in support of the programme.