Everything has to be football related: Raymond Verheijen
By Debayan Mukherjee, New Delhi, Feb 15 : Raymond Verheijen is a genius. If you just look at the names (both Players and Coaches) he has worked with, you are sure to be in awe. And then when you get a chance to interact with him, you perhaps, won't find any better word than: 'Respect.' It's not without reason that the Cream of World Football call him up regularly to discuss at length their fitness schedule.
Raymond, over the years, has worked with the likes of Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat, Frank Rijkaard amongst others and has been the former Advisor of Periodisation of clubs like FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC, Manchester City, etc.
A close friend of All India Football Federation's Technical Director Mr. Robert Baan, Raymond was in the Capital to conduct a three-day Conditioning Conference for Football Coaches. At the end of the course, in an exclusive interview, Raymond shared his 'simple' outlook apart from educating all about Periodisation and spoke about his thoughts about Coaches and Indian football as a whole, and much more. EXCERPTS:
You started off the Conference stressing on a 'football language' and being in the 'football world'. Kindly elaborate.
What I always do is before you can talk about Conditioning, you should first talk about football. Everything has to be related to football. First you have to determine the structure and language you will use. What I did was a philosophical introduction, analysing football, explaining to the people that football is a simple game.
A lot of coaches are already speaking the football language but the problem stays that a lot of experts who hail from outside from outside the football world speak a non-football language thus, polluting the football world. They are either using different words with the same meaning or using same words with different meaning!
That's confusing. The Football Language I am preaching is based on facts, and not opinions. It is objective and universal.
How did you inculcate the football language among the participants?
I showed the participants (through theory and practical sessions) how to develop a universal and objective philosophy. Very often in such a course there are too many opinions. As a coach I want to know facts -- information of which I know which if I apply in my own situation, will work rather than copying subjective opinion.
That is the problem. People boast about what they won five years ago. It's all very subjective.
My point is there must be a language without confusion and a structure without confusion. I spoke Dutch quite often with the Coaches, using it as a metaphor. You understand. If I coming in India speak my language you've got a problem.
From the fitness training point of view, you have to get rid of aerobic and anaerobic stuff, and rather speak sustaining football for ninety minutes. To do that you don't need to speak those tough languages. Terms like maximum explosive action, and actions per minute are better off in the football world.
How was the response?
You can see it for yourself. They are all conversing in the football language now. They belong to the football world. It's really heartening to see that most of the Coaches here are Head Coaches of their concerned clubs. Generally in such seminars, you find next generation coaches. The Head Coach thinks he is too superior and knows it all. But I am overwhelmed by the response here.
Moreover, all the 35 odd participants were willing to learn. They want to move forward, that's why they are here. I am happy that Head Coaches have picked up so much and now hopefully will implement them for the betterment of Indian football.
In the last session of the final day, while conversing with them (coaches) informally, I could see that they were speaking the football language. That was so heartening to see. It's difficult to make the honchos change their practice, but at the grassroot level, where I believe India are focusing right now under the tutelage of my close friend Robert Baan, you change bring in that philosophy.
How much of an idea did you have about Indian football before coming here and how is it now after spending three days?
I was told about the number of injuries which were occurring. Injury prevention methods are not in place. In football the most important thing is decision making. Now in India, if you constantly nag about the problems, you're not moving forward and doing any good. You need to find a solution and for that to happen, you have to change - everyone. You need to have the right kind of expertise and make it happen. If you keep on saying that we don't have this and we don't have that, it will never happen.
Now, look at the positive side. Mr. Wim Koevermans sent his fitness trainer Mr. Pradeep Dutta to attend this course, that too at a time when the National Preparatory camp is going on in Pune for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers. Now he will pass on this knowledge he has got from this course to the National Team players. That will perhaps bring the change, gradually.