Coach Bimal Ghosh - Piloting Air-India to dizzy heights
top soccer team Air-India has been piloted to dizzy heights
in many prestigious competitions by renowned coach Bimal Ghosh
who was voted as the best coach in the year, 1997. Ghosh added
another feather to his cap when he guided hosts Air-India to victory
over arch rivals Mahindras United in the final of the recently concluded
Air India Millennium Cup Football tournament.
Born and bred in Kamptee in Nagpur, Ghosh joined Air-India in 1982
as a striker. He served Air-India as a manager from 1992 before
he was elevated to the post of coach in 1994. Being a son of an
army officer, Ghosh is a strict disciplinarian who has moulded Air-India
into a closely knit team. He is a shrewd observer of the game and
has the knack of spotting potential in budding youngsters.
Ghosh does not rely on star performers to deliver the goods. Widely
known for his brave and bold decisions, he has not only the intrinsic
ability to forge a winning combination with lesser known players,
but is also able to transform them into stars. Under his guidance,
promising youngsters like Khalid Jamil, Bungo Singh and Tomba
Singh have become champion fighters. Ghosh spoke to Mumbaibest.com
about his glittering career as player and coach.
How would you describe your journey as a striker, manager and
subsequently as a coach of Air-India?
started my career as a striker for Nagpur University. I also
played for Rambbani Sports Club in Nagpur, and for South
Eastern Railway, before joining Orkay Mills in 1980.
I represented Air-India from 1982 to 1991. My best performance was
against Bombay Customs in the Rovers Cup in 1987. Air-India was
trailing by 2 goals when I scored a hat-trick in five minutes and
we won the match 3-2.
As a player, life was easy. And being a coach, there is tremendous
responsibility on my shoulders. I worked as a manager for Air-India
in 1992, before accepting the responsibility of coaching the airmen
in 1994. As a coach, I had observed that the players get all the
credit whenever our team wins a match or a tournament. However,
when the team loses a match, criticism is heaped upon the coach.
Initially, people would say that Air-India is able to win matches
because it banks on top players like Jeevan Moraes, Naushad Moosa
and Abbas Ali Rizvi. So, I introduced a new ideology
in order to reduce our dependence on top players. I prepared the
boys for greater battles and we continued to win matches even in
the absence of Moraes, Moosa, Rizvi and Paitie, who had already
switched over to other clubs. Look at Tomba Singh and Bungo Singh
who originally manned the center and the right positions on the
field. When other teams started marking them, I changed their position
and groomed them to play in any position.
Can you specify some of your major achievements while working
as a coach of Air-India ?
The year 1994 was probably the best in my career, when I made
my debut as a coach of Air India. We (Air India) won the Bombay
League Championships, and registered a 1-0 victory over Germany
in the final of the World Airlines Cup. In the same year,
Air-India was unbeaten in 37 matches and only suffered losses to
East Bengal and Mohan Bagan. After emerging as the runner-up in
the Bombay League Championship in 1995, Air-India won the
Sikkim Gold Cup and also became the Bombay League champions
in 1996. Again in the year 1997, Air-India won the Bombay League
and were unbeaten in the National Football league, before
losing five players to injuries in a match against JCT.
In 1998, Air-India could not live up to the general expectations
with a mere 2nd runner-up position in the Bombay league to show
for our efforts. However, we came back strongly in 1999 and won
the Bombay League and the Sikkim Gold Cup in 2000.
How would you describe the present state of India football ?
Indian football has changed completely from what it used to
be in the earlier stage. Skill was the only significant aspect in
football in the 1950s. But nowadays, in addition to skill, football
hinges on stamina, strength and speed. We are okay as far as skill
is concerned but we lack in strength and stamina.
The Indian team was unable to put up a competitive show in
the Sahara Millennium Cup. What could be the reason for this ?
Basically, the Indian team could not function as a team and
played very badly against Iceland and Uruguay. How could you rely
on senior players like Carlton Chapman, Bruno Coutinho or I M Vijayan
who are not even full-time players within their individual teams?
Coach Islam Akhmedov should have certainly experimented with
the younger players. I also think that the selectors were apprehensive
of the media and the existing quota system which empowers every
state to represent their players in the national team.
What are the remedial measures for improving the standard of
We have to look at the grassroots which means greater focus
on boys between the age group of 8 to 9 years. Every state should
have at least one football academy. It is common knowledge that
we lack renowned coaches at the school level. Hence, it is important
to get the services of experienced and qualified coaches. I reckon
that the MSSA-Colgate Inter School football tournament which
is organized by Bombay School Sports Association every year is good
for the game. However, the tournament is held only for a limited
period, and thus fails to hold the momentum of children towards
football. Even parents are not very encouraging as they want their
children to concentrate more on studies. Football is a forgotten
affair when students progress from school to college for higher
How does a qualified coach help to mould a team?
An able coach has the ability to combine the whole team in well-planned
way. The coach has to find solutions to the problems of every player
in the team. I personally believe that a coach should find solutions
to the problems of the players, because he (the coach) is generally
held responsible for the performance of the team on the field. This
is despite the fact that every team has a manager who deals with
the problems faced by players.
The coach has to ensure that the players get along well with each
other on and off the field. The off-the-field relations between
players are important and help them to attain better understanding
and coordination when on the field. The coach will be able to forge
a winning combination if he can motivate his team.
Can you tell us about your daily practice schedule?
I make the boys practice 3 to 4 hours everyday. I experiment
with different combinations. The emphasis is on the speed, shooting
skills and set-play like the corners and kicks. I also guide the
players on how to play and move from one post to another on the
What do you think about Air-India players, Bungo Singh and Tomba
Bungo and Tomba love football and possess tremendous firepower.
Although, they have made considerable improvement and played well
against top teams like Iran, Salgaocar and Mahindras, I believe
that they should not be overexposed because they lack experience.
They should be nurtured very carefully with proper guidance as they
have got a bright future and will represent India in the near future.
Both Bungo and Tomba are very obedient and give a lot of respect
to everyone. They reside in close proximity and also obey Khambiton
Singh, who is a senior player. We also always keep a watchful
eye on them so that they do not get out of the premises of Air-India
and remain focussed towards the game.
Tell us something about Khalid Jamil?
Khalid is a very good player and is only next to Baichung Bhutia.
He can play in any position either center, right or left and is
unstoppable on his day. Moreover, he is very disciplined and loves
to play football which is very important. He has bright future and
will play for India..
By : Wasim Siddiqui
Photographer: Vinayak Prabhu