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Scott O'Donell: There is so much to learn from the World Cup

India U-16

India U-16

Keeping pace with the euphoria of the ongoing 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Scott O’Donell, AIFF’s Technical Director of Academies and Director of Coach Education urged the India Under-16 boys to draw inspiration from Players shining at the greatest stage as the rookies gear up for their next Asia Champions Trophy match against Home United at the Barasat Stadium on Saturday, June 21.

The Under-16 Boys are in dire need of inspiration after a string of below par performances that has left them with only two points from five matches and without a win.

With the FIFA World Cup in full swing and laced with scintillating performances and upsets O’Donell feels there is lot to learn from the myriad emotions that surround the global spectacle. “There is so much to learn from the World Cup,” O’Donell said.

Citing the example of 19-year old England attacker Raheem Sterling who impressed one and all by his fearlessness and exemplary skills that left everybody talking about the Liverpool starlet, O’Donell remarked, “Sterling is just four years elder to our boys, and look at him playing at the biggest stage of all. He is so confident.”

Putting things into perspective, he added, “They don’t have to play in the World Cup. If Sterling can play at the biggest stage of all and shine like he did, our boys can aim to make the National Team and play in the I-League four years down the line.”

A FIFA World Cup older than all the AIFF XI boys who form the core of the India U-16 National Team, Sterling was not even in the fray not long ago was at the wrong side of youthful exuberance managing only 39 playing minutes in the previous weeks before the FIFA World Cup, his infrequency exacerbated by his red card against Ecuador in the warm-up match. But come the FIFA World Cup, Sterling paraded his talent time after time against Italy.

“That’s something you should learn. You make mistakes and then pick yourself up, right in the nick of time and fulfill your potential.”

From Sterling to the 30-year young Arjen Robben, who could well have reminded the U-16 colts of the Road Runner show, making light of heavyweights Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and eventually Iker Casillas in the Netherlands’ 5-1 demotion of holders Spain, O’Donell stressed the Dutchman is an ideal role model for all kids underlying the fact that age can never get the better of will power.

“Robben’s second goal against Spain should inspire one and all. Running at that blistering pace defying age and all other limitations one can think of, any budding footballer should take stock and say to himself ‘if he is doing it at 30, why can’t we at 15’?”

“I’m not saying you can be Robben. You can take a lot of heart from the fact that determination and will power can take you places. Inspiration is not bound by age. It’s like trying to ape seniors in School – having role models.”

O’Donell also advised the Boys to watch Players in their respective positions to pick up the dos and dont’s.

“I would never like Amit Tudu or Jayananda Singh (Central Defenders) to do what Pepe did the other night,” O’Donell maintained referring to the Portugal and Real Madrid defender’s raucous straying of the arm and later light head-butt on Germany’s Thomas Muller in the latter’s 4-0 hammering of the former in a Group G encounter.

“These are the dos and dont’s you can pick up from the World Cup.”

He continued, “When I was young I used to watch my heroes play and picked up a lot of things. It teaches you so much when you observe the best and trying to set standards of your own. Look at Pirlo. He completed 110 passes the other day against England and he is 35!”

“These are role models and examples we should learn from.”

(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)