The former English Premier League player, Michael Chopra is in Mumbai to pursue All India Football Federation (AIFF) D-licence coaching course at the Western India Football Federation (WIFA) Ground, Cooperage. The Kerala Blasters striker sets an aim to enhance the escalating talent in the country.
The 33-year-old had a topsy-turvy career in the Premier League where he represented nine clubs that include Newcastle United, Sunderland, Cardiff City and Blackpool where he scored 95 goals in 258 appearances. Chopra is also the first player with an Indian patronage to play and score a goal in the Premier League.
Born and brought up in Newcastle, it was a dream come true for Chopra when he was selected for his hometown club and believes that he can help the local kids to reach that level which is one reason why he has joined the WIFA course. “I always wanted to represent the country as a player but for that I had to give up my British passport and if I did that I could not see my family. It is a shame that many other players like me cannot play for the country. I aim to be a coach one day and take the country where it should be in football. Why is it that the country with a population of 1.3 billion not competing at the topmost level of football? I want to shape the careers of the coming generation so that they can take the country forward and also play at the highest level of the European Leagues,” says Chopra on being asked about his ideas for the country.
The D-license course is the first step to becoming a coach where one cab learn about the methods and implementing them. It was introduced by AIFF to promote the professional coaching in India and WIFA has taken the initiative locally.
While differentiating the football in India with the style of play in England Michael says, “When I came to play in the Indian Super League in the initial seasons, I did not understand the technique because it was so different from what we played in the UK. The playing style was unorthodox and the players were not confident about the game. Apart from that the players could not benefit from the coaches. But it has changed in the recent years where the clubs have signed experienced marquee managers and good players are coming out.”
Chopra has recently kick started a sports agency Reach Football Management through which he plans to take young Indian footballers for trips to European countries so that they can train with the respective clubs and learn their style of play and groom themselves suitably.
Talking about his future plans with football Michael asserts, “For now, I have the chance to play for another couple of years as I am 33. There is also an addition of new clubs to the ISL who have approached me and I am still thinking whether to keep playing or be a pundit or become a coach,” signs off the British-Indian with a smile.