There is no one better than Tanumoy Basu, Goalkeeping Coach of All India Football Federation developmental side Pailan Arrows, to comment on the future of goalkeepers in India. Presently in Bangalore to have a look at the ongoing 2nd Division League, Basu, who guarded the citadel for the Big-Three in Kolkata in the 80s and the 90s, feels the right mix of height and technique defines a goalkeeper.

In a freewheeling interview to the former India goalkeeper spoke at length on the overall scenario in terms of goalkeeping in the country. Excerpts:    

Comment on the current crop of goalkeepers in India.

The gap between height of a goalkeeper and his technique needs to be bridged. Goalkeepers from Bengal are very sound technically but are not tall enough. Goalkeepers who have the height and hail from other states generally, lack technique. In modern football, a goalkeeper needs to be both tall and technically sound. He is not only the shot stopper, but the first line of attack. Distribution is very important.

The current crop of goalkeepers we have, are either tall or technically sound. A mixture of both is what is required. You need to deal with crosses and in modern day football flank movement has increased a lot. So height is of paramount important, along with of course technique.

How can this problem be solved?

A goalkeeper needs to be spotted at that tender age. Then you need to research on his family background and check on his potential height in the future. You need to nurture him. All over the World follow the same procedure.

What is being done to bridge it?

The All India Football Federation Academies are looking into the matter. We have Scott (O’Donell) and Rob (Baan) at the helm and they are doing their best to cater to the issue. It is their philosophy that a player needs to be developed from very tender age. I would like to add that scouting doesn’t solely stay the responsibility of the AIFF Academies. Coach Education is also very important.

How are things at Pailan Arrows?

Arrows are a developmental side. But as we play in the I-League, we also need results. So we need to strike a balance. At present we have one matured goalkeeper who can deliver the goods in the League, and other two three rookies who are being nurtured. See the motive here is to groom the players and release them to play the I-League for other clubs. At present, all our custodians are ready for the next step.

How important is the role of a Goalkeeping Coach?

AIFF Goalkeeping Coach Tanumoy Basu working hard with Youth Goalkeepers

AIFF Goalkeeping Coach Tanumoy Basu working hard with Youth Goalkeepers

Very important! In modern day football, the goalkeeper is not only a shot stopper. He has to distribute well and inside the 18-yard box, his passing accuracy stays pertinent. For a goalkeeper to attain all that and at the same time keep pace with the rigours of the season, a Goalkeeping Coach is essential. But unfortunately in India people don’t realise that. Barring few clubs in Kolkata and one in Goa, most I-League clubs don’t have Goalkeeping Coaches.

What are the main areas he should focus on?

Developing the technical ability and working on fitness stays the main role of a Goalkeeping Coach. I would like to point out four major areas – shot stopping, tackling crosses, one on one situations and distribution. You need to plan your schedule likewise. Moreover, maintaining fitness is very important. Only one plays and other two or three sit out for a match.. So maintaining their fitness is essential.

How do you see the future of Indian goalkeepers shaping up?

On the surface it seems a vacuum may be created when the likes of Subrata (Paul), Karanjit (Singh), Subhashish (Roy Chowdhury), Sandip (Nandy) and Arindam (Bhattacharya) leave. The onus is on Goalkeeping Coaches working at the youth level to fill the void in the next one and half years. It’s a massive challenge and I am working on it.

By AIFF Media

The philosophy of Rob Baan and Scott O’Donell to develop players from tender age is going to change the face of beautiful game in India. AIFF’s regional academies are going to have a big say in taking Indian Football to the next level. In football it is necessary to have a good base to build the team on. A reliable goalkeeper can be an enormous boost to any team while an error prone goalkeeper will be a headache to the whole team management. 

Training and developing goalkeepers from a young age will have fruitful benefits for Indian Football. Teams can play with more confidence and belief when they have a reliable custodian guarding their posts. Earlier in the season Indian Football Team were in a tricky situation when they faced Palestine. No:1 custodian Subrata Pal was out of form for his club and the national team coach Wim Koevermans had to recall 38 year old Sandip Nandy to guard the posts. It showed the lack of availability of technically brilliant goalkeepers for national duty.

Even in top flight of Indian Football, I-League, most of the goalkeepers falter in goalkeeping basics. Here comes the importance of catching and grooming them young. AIFF and Academies need to train the future India goalkeepers from a tender age with the sole aim of developing world class talents by making sure that the state-of-the-art facilities are available. With a proper plan and schedule, even we can produce the next Iker Casillas!