He’s tall, dark and handsome. Arindam Bhattacharya, when reminded, smiles. “I play Football and will play Football,” is all what he says.
As Arindam walks past, Indian National Team’s Goalkeeping Coach Marcus Pacheco comments, “Look at his height. International Goalkeepers stay that tall. He looks a Goalkeeper and is a Goalkeeper.” Pacheco smiles; and so do all.
“When he first burst onto the scene, his height had struck me. He had just played for India U-19 then. Months later when he was named in the National squad, I discovered his talent. He was full of energy, willing to learn and motivate himself,” Pachecho adds.
“He was then touted to be one of the best Indian Goalkeepers and he stays on track. In between, injuries hit him hard. He needs to play and gather more match experience. That would help him complete the Course what we are expecting from him.”
More than being a shot stopper and an equally good distributor, Arindam’s first struggle wasn’t on the Football Field. Instead, it was at Home.
“All my relatives are very good in Academics. Most of them are Software Engineers. My Dad was working for a Multinational organisation and my elder brother, a Chef. Taking up Football as a career was a sort of taboo in our family,” he informs.
“But Oliver Kahn had inspired me and I was a sort of rebel. Convincing all was difficult. But it all fell into place once I joined the Tata Football Academy and thereafter went ahead to don the U-19 Indian Team colours.”
For the record, Arindam makes a comeback to the National squad after the Nehru Cup. I was in the Preparatory Camp in Bangalore prior to the Nehru Cup but was nursing my knee,” he recollects. “In fact, the shoulder injury hit me hard as I missed the Bus to the Asian Cup. I had dived to gather a ball and fell badly. I couldn’t play for six-seven months and in the process missed the entire season.”
“I have been part of National Teams but the training process under Koevermans-sir has impressed me a lot,” he pronounces. “Moreover, at the National Camp, you get to train under a Goalkeeping Coach which may not always be the case with the Clubs. Goalkeeping is always a specialised subject,” he quips.
How is a Goalkeeper’s training different from the rest?
“A Goalkeeper Coach will guide you about your positioning, outing. When you train day in and day out with a Goalkeeping Coach, he follows a certain routine. He will make you stretch as you dive for the Balls. He understands more than any as to how much a Goalkeeper ought to stretch,” Arindam explains. “The others use their legs, we use our hands.
“But modern-day Goalkeeping is not all about shot stopping. Distribution is nowadays an integral part our profession. Modern Football is all about building up from the back. I enjoy it a lot. In fact, it’s my plus point.”
“The two back to back Friendlies stay very significant. The squad has been practicing hard. We have been unlucky in some previous matches. Let Lady Luck be on our side,” he urged.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)