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Mumbai: Some 50 Indian grassroots coaches from eight Indian Super League (ISL) clubs grassroots’ programmes and local NGOs were put through their paces at the Father Agnel School sports centre in Mumbai last week as part of a new three-year global Premier Skills project.

Premier Skills is the English Premier League's lead international project and is run globally in partnership with the British Council and in India with additional partners such as the ISL and the All India Football Federation. It works to help community coaches to develop their coaching skills and establish new coach educators, who can train up new coaches.

Arnold Wilson, who helps to manage community programmes for ISL side FC Pune City, was pleased with the level of exposure and unique expertise presented during the first phase of the Premier Skills project.  

"I wanted to join the course to understand the coaching side as I am hoping to start working as a community coach through our soccer schools and other FC Pune City activities in the west of India," Wilson says.

"The course has been incredible so far. It's an eye-opener to understand how coaching has evolved since my playing days.

"We have coaches from West Ham, Crystal Palace and a Premier Skills head coach too and all three have their own way of coaching which is brilliant. It just goes to show you don't need to follow the book for everything and a good coach is the one who plans and innovates.

"I am sure the course will equip me enough to go back to FC Pune City and our schools and conduct and assist the coaching. Not just because I am an enthusiastic person but because I have got a lot of basic knowledge.

"This will help me to go back and coach and, in a small way, I will be able to give back to the people who I am going to be working with.

"At the end of the course we will receive an All India Football Federation D Licence. This is critical because it helps me get official recognition from the governing body of football in India and it lets you know that you are also moving in the right direction.

"Many people on the course are experienced coaches but what they are learning here is of immense importance. It shows that people feel a lot of value in the Premier Skills programme.

"One task this week is to conduct different parts of a coaching session. 

"This will be light years ahead of what I thought I would be doing. Confidence-wise it's definitely there. This is with adults so it will be a challenge when it's implemented with the children on the ground but that challenge in itself is exciting."

Photo: English Premier League