By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team
BENGALURU: ‘Football is a Team Game’ -- every moment of everyday you get to hear it. However, building the Team by paying special emphasis on Team Building exercises to create relationships based on responsibilities towards each other have not been heard much about in Indian Football history.
On Saturday (June 6, 2015), for the first time ever, an Indian National Team took part in Team Building Exercises organised by the Indian Army. It all happened at the ASC Centre where the Men in Blue were put through obstacle courses consisting of 21 different barriers and also Team Building recreational games.
With just five days left for India’s crucial opener in the Russia 2018 World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification match against Oman, National Coach Stephen Constantine, the brain behind the novel concept, felt it best to take time off from a training session to “build the Team.” And when it ended, the “Team,” unanimously stated: “It was a great initiative.”
“In order to build a Team of any kind and in any sphere of life, be it in Business, or the Corporate World, or Sports Teams, you need people who can work under pressure,” Constantine told www.the-aiff.com. “You need to see people at their breaking point. And it’s not often that those situations are created except when they arrive. And sometimes it may be late by the time you reach the live situation because you need to find out about the people in your Team,” he continued.
“So by putting the Players under extreme pressure, you find out and separate the Men from the Boys. Obviously the military are experts in putting people in high pressure and difficult situations because they can’t afford the soldier to make a mistake at a critical point,” he explained.
“So from our perspective it also helped in Team building with Players getting to trust each other in difficult situations and fighting against the odds. And both psychologically and physically, we benefitted immensely.”
“Whenever the Players have a difficult time together, they are mentally stronger.”
A “motivated” Sandesh Jhingan mentioned that “quitting in such situations is uncalled for.”
“Go for it. Not going for it is a problem. At the outset I felt the barriers were a bit difficult. But I went for it; in fact, we all went for it,” he reflected. “The initiative was a reminder for all how mentally strong you need to be. There’s no place for any negativity. At one moment while crossing on the rope, I knew that if I fell down, anything could have happened. But I backed myself.”
Arnab Mondal complemented Jhingan further adding that it “highlighted one’s reaction under pressure.”
“There will be obstacles which will challenge us. You need to back yourself and be mentally tough. The entire episode has made us tougher. I need to thank Coach for taking us through it.”
Lalchhuanmawia, standing next, nodded. “It was so inspiring. The bonding is more knitted now. It was about strengthening the relationship among all. It was never easy. But walking through the sufferings makes you tough. Thank you Coach,” he mentioned in one breath.
You turn again to Contstantine and he shakes his head.
“I must say that none of what I am doing on or off the pitch is possible without the full support of my General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das. I think many people do not fully understand the need for the General Secretary to understand what the Coach needs and wants. I am fortunate he has given me the free hand to do what I need to do for us to build a strong Indian Team,” he informed.
“This will not happen overnight no matter how much we wanted to. This will take time and there will be bad days. But as someone once said to me, you don’t get very high when you win and don’t get very low when you lose.”
Constantine was given a standing ovation by his wards as he finished the 21-barrier Course without a break. “He’s exceptional. How can you do it at his age? He’s our Leader,” commented Subrata Pal. Sunil Chhetri standing next¸ perhaps clapped the most. “That’s the spirit, Gaffer.”
The Gaffer by then, was handed over some water by the rest. In fact, the Players lauded all the members of the support staff for crossing the finish line.
Rino Anto said it was “all about courage.”
“We had to finish it. We have to finish our job. You got to know each other more. There’s more belief in your teammate after the drills,” he quipped.
Sehnaj Singh, also in the Indian National squad for the first time, highlighted the “discipline.”
“Hard tasks are never possible without being disciplined. We gelled together and are gelling well,” he stated.
The trickling effect of the session was visible at the next day morning practice session at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. There was also the next one to push the other; there was always the other one to lend his helping hand to his next.
“It’s not that it wasn’t prevalent prior,” comments Mandar Rao Desai. “But the communication has improved. We are more adept to understand the needs and foresee what is coming,” he pronounced.
Another debutant in the squad Dhanachandra Singh felt it was “all about attitude.”
“The aggression from within needs to come out when needed, all for the positive cause. It’s about support, team, togetherness and help,” he opined.
New season! New-look Team! New chant!
“We will achieve our goals, we will succeed but it will not happen in four or five months. I am building a Team for the future,” Constantine echoed.
Posted on : Sunday June 07, 2015