Having included futsal as a format of the sport to develop, the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) has roped in Dutch futsal legend Vic Hermans as a consultant to help develop the sport in the country.
The sport of futsal is in a nascent stage in India and the AIFF is hoping that Hermans' suggestions will help the sport become a big draw in the country.
The AIFF has recently organised the second edition of the Hero Futsal Club Championship, which concluded on Sunday and was another grand success, with Minerva Academy lifting the title after a thrilling shootout win over Mohammedan Sporting Club.
Dutch futsal legend Vic Hermans, who is currently in India as a futsal consultant for the Federation, witnessed the nail-biting final in New Delhi. The veteran consultant has led three different national teams to the Futsal World Cup as head coach and holds extensive coaching experience in Asia.
Like most professional futsal players, Hermans' journey also started with football. Five years later, Hermans got the opportunity to try out futsal. There wasn't much money in football back then and even less so in futsal, but that didn't matter to him.
"I felt a direct connection with the game. The money was not important to me," he said. "After just two months, the Dutch coach called me and asked if I would join the national futsal team. So, I began playing football during the week and futsal on Sundays," Hermans was quoted as saying in a release on Monday.
In 1989, the Netherlands hosted the first-ever FIFA Futsal World Championship. The Oranje finished runners-up to Brazil, and Hermans was adjudged the MVP of the tournament. The futsal world thus had its poster boy for this new, exciting, and fast-paced sport.
"I was asked to promote futsal around the world, and that's what I've been doing for 33 years now. I've visited more than 60 countries. I've coached the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Iran, Malta, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia," said Hermans, who is currently with the Philippines and is providing his expertise to the AIFF in India as well.
After decades of experience in Asia, Hermans believes that the continent's teams have all the potential to be world-beaters, provided there's a proper developmental programme. "I joined Iran in 1993 to develop their futsal programme, and we won the AFC Futsal Championship in 2000," he said.
Iran are the most successful futsal team in Asia, having won 12 continental titles. They are the only Asian side to reach the FIFA Futsal World Cup semifinals, doing so twice in 1992 and 2016. Hermans hopes other Asian countries can follow suit soon and challenge the likes of Brazil and Spain.
Hermans sees a bright future for futsal in the world and India but knows that the professionalisation of the sport will be the most crucial aspect.
On the growing futsal scene in India, Hermans said, "I've seen a few matches of the AIFF Futsal Club Championship. The technique is not a problem. Most players know the technique here. We need to work physically. Coaching and tactics are important. A proper league is needed so that we have good games. The coach needs to have a good view of the team's preparations."
Hermans had a positive conversation with the AIFF Secretary General Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran about taking futsal forward in the country.
"I felt very encouraged by his stance regarding futsal. You don't always feel a connection everywhere in the world, but here I felt it. I could sense it, 'Yes this is true, this is what they want'. That, for me, is very important," said Hermans.
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