‘Their hunger and sheer desire to learn is what drives me to work with youngsters’

Thangboi Singto speaks about training in a bio-bubble, the importance of mental fitness for players, chances for youngsters and more ahead of the new ISL season…

Hyderabad FC Assistant coach Thangboi Singto has been in charge of the team’s first few training sessions after the necessary quarantine period that the team underwent in Hyderabad and Goa. After a little over two weeks of staying completely indoors, HFC became the first team to start their pre-season in a bio-bubble and the 46-year-old believes he will face a lot of challenges ahead of the new season.

Thangboi, who also is the Technical Director for Youth at the club, has experience working with Shillong Lajong, Kerala Blasters, and Odisha FC previously. He spoke about the ISL, chances for youngsters in the league, his experience of working with youth, and much more in this exclusive chat with the club’s official website.

“I was involved in the I-League but the Indian Super League is a bit different. It is a huge platform for young, talented players and is at a higher level in terms of competition, and pressure but it gives the right exposure to our next generation,” said Thangboi as he began the chat sharing his experiences in the different set-ups, he has been a part of.

The former Shillong Lajong coach has been involved at the highest level in Indian football for a long time now and one thing that has stayed constant is his involvement with youngsters in the clubs. “I have been very fortunate to see up to seven players that I have trained join ISL clubs since 2017. I have a lot of patience for young players and working hard to improve them is a huge part of my job at HFC, apart from helping the senior side.”

“The youngsters have more hunger, are eager to learn and ready to grasp the knowledge. This is not to dismiss the senior players but there is definitely more energy in youngsters and their sheer desire to learn is where my interest in developing them comes from,” said the former Kerala Blasters’ Technical Director.

Emphasis on youth development is a major part of the plans at Hyderabad FC, and Thangboi believes that moving forward, the youngsters must be involved in more games at different levels. “We have a lot of youngsters training at Hyderabad FC and what is important for these boys and all such players around the country is a platform to perform, a platform where they can showcase their talents. They are training under experienced coaches and have senior players they can learn from but lack of game time remains a problem. Hopefully, in the near future, we have more competitions on the state and national level where these players will get the opportunity to play games on a regular basis.”

“Playing games is crucial for any sportsperson as it helps build their confidence. This, further aids in their development from where we can have strong players. But the good thing for Indian football is that there is plenty of young, exciting talent coming up the ranks and it is only going to improve in the future,” Thangboi added.

With COVID protocols restricting the movement of players throughout the day, this season is now as challenging mentally, as it is physically. It will take a combined effort from everyone for players to get back to their best, at the earliest, before the start of the season and Thangboi believes that communication is key to break the barriers and for the players to reach their potential, despite the hurdles.

“The advancement of technology will surely help in these tough times. Communication is the key, more so this season. Previously, players used to chat with each other about their game, their life, and more but now everyone is in their own world, with their headphones plugged in. This is not bad, but the level of communication has gone down so staying indoors because of the pandemic has become that much more challenging.”

“So, we at HFC have placed an importance on developing them mentally and psychologically ahead of this challenging season. We have set up Yoga classes that will hopefully help. It is about finding different ways to make your mind sharper so when you step on the pitch, you are ready to do your job. We are also working with a reputed psychologist and we believe that these things will surely help the players,” said Thangboi.

The Manipur-born coach at Hyderabad FC also believes that the club staff plays an important role this season. “The way the staff communicates with the players is also going to be key for the success of a club this season. It is going to be tough but hey, we are human beings, the strongest species on the planet so there will always be ways to solve these issues,” he added.

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