Churchill Brothers’ Technical Director Subhash Bhowmick admits that at the start of the season, he never believed that his team would “become Champions”.
Moments after Churchill Brothers lifted the 2012/13 I-League crown [+ read the match report], Bhowmick spoke to AIFF Media about his philosophy, the path, the obstacles and his unfulfilled dream.
Is this your most memorable I-League triumph?
My biggest achievement as a Coach has been winning the ASEAN Cup for East Bengal. But having said that I admit it would have been a crime not to win it, especially with the squad which I had at my disposal.
This time in Churchill, I never dreamt of winning the I-League. It was at best a middle-class family. But team work elevated us to the aristocrat level. Prior to the season when I told about my players, people found it hard to recollect who most were. But here we are, the I-League Champions, 2012-13.
Churchill didn’t have many star players. So what stayed your philosophy?
Fitness and sticking together stayed my philosophy. In fact, that has stayed my belief all throughout. Football is a team game. Right from the top to the bottom level, everyone has to share the workload and work sincerely. If they try to give the best which they have, results are bound to come. We win together; we lose together, stayed my philosophy.
You roped in quite a few players like Tomba Singh and Sandip Nandy who possibly had past their prime. What stayed your logic?
Quality never dies. I knew if I was able to show them their path, motivate them and able to bring them back to their fitness level which had once had made them household names, they would be assets. And they did!
What stays the secret of creating an instant connect with players?
I will always believe till my death bed that my players are my God. They are my strength, they are my weakness. I need to instill in them a belief, the belief that I am a part of you. If we sink, we sink together; if we win, we win together. My players are more important than anyone else.
A couple of crucial players left midway into the season. What went through your mind?
It was a very difficult phase after Bilal (Najjarine) and Akram (Moghrabi) left midway into the season. To be honest, both of their departure hit us. Add to that the injuries which hit Beto. But again, my players stood by me and for the team. Each and everyone took additional responsibility. We roped in Sunil Chhetri and Afghan International Belal Arezou during the break. And they settled in fast.
What did you tell Sunil Chhetri?
The fact that he hadn’t played enough matches for Sporting Lisbon had dented his confidence. I told him repeatedly not to forget that he was the Captain of our Country. It was not without reason that he wore the armband while others didn’t. I told him to believe in his technical abilities and continue playing.
At the same time I had to convince him that for the sake of the Team, he had to play the role of a game maker and play from behind. His ability with the ball helped him adjust quickly. The best part stayed he scored crucial goals, very crucial ones. He scored when we needed him to score. That makes him important.
What did this season of I-League give to Indian Football?
Look at the competitive nature of the League. No side was willing to give the other a single inch without fighting. The Championship battle went down to the wire. There are three teams who could have won it. It was a very tense battle indeed.
What stays your aim?
As a Coach, I don’t intend to decorate my CV with I-League titles. Given a chance, if any team puts confidence in me, I want to win the AFC Cup for an Indian Club. People may laugh but I tell you, it’s possible. You need to have the time and keep in the players in the right shape and frame of mind. When I dreamt of wining the ASEAN Cup, there were skeptics around. But we made it possible. Winning an Asian title stays my aim.
(AIFF Press Release)