Prioritizing Youth: Kali Alaudeen Calls for Investment in Young Footballers

The coastal areas of Kerala and Tamilnadu are hotbeds of football maybe because football is the easiest team sport to play on sand. Numerous footballers of the current generation like Joby Justin, Bijoy Varghese, and Michael Soosairaj hail from such a background. Born in Kayalpatnam in Thoothukudi district of Tamilnadu, Kali Alaudeen Nisthar also made it into the top division of Indian football having played football as a youngster in the coastal regions.

“I come from an impoverished background and I used to be a ball boy for interstate club tournaments which were organised near my home. Even prominent clubs of Kerala then like Titanium and KSEB used to come there to participate. That early exposure to football kindled my desire to become a footballer“, Kali said.

As a defender during his professional career, leadership was a virtue that came naturally to Kali. Later that leadership quality transformed him as a coach after his career as a player.

Centrebacks are the ones who control the rest of the players on the field. So it was easy for me to communicate with the players as a coach.”

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Kali had the opportunity to play in ISL in the inaugural season, however, due to job commitments he couldn’t pursue that dream. 

Kali with his favorite coach Derrick Pereira

I played in the I-league for 11 years and won the I-League, Federation Cup, and the Durand Cup. At the age of 32 years, I got a job in the AG Office through sports quota and that was the time when Indian Super League was launched. I had to choose one and I chose my office job. However, coaching has been my passion. Hence, I underwent coaching license courses. Later, I worked for 6 years as a coach for various Chennaiyin FC youth and reserve teams,” the former Mumbai FC defender added.

On being asked about his coaching philosophy, Kali, who admires Carlos Ancelotti, had an interesting answer.

“Football is simple: we have to score more than our opponents. I like my players to build from the back, and play a quick passing game. Unlike the Spanish Tiki-taka, I want the passes to be fast and play with an attacking mindset. I like to cross from the wings. Nevertheless, I am flexible with my tactics. I have played under a Moroccan coach (Karim Bencherifa) who always wanted forward passes unlike the Spanish coaches and that has influenced me”, Kali said.

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A few days back, Thiruvananthapuram Kombans, one of the franchises of Super League Kerala, announced Kali Alaudeen as their assistant coach. Kali, just like his previous stint, is excited about youth development at his new club.

I am excited about this opportunity. At this point in my coaching career, I want to learn more from the foreign coaches. I am yet to interact with him. I have pitched my ideas to the management about the youth teams and grassroots development. That is the way forward. We will get players who are loyal and efficient at a lower expense if we work on youth teams.

As it stands, Kerala football is gaining a lot of popularity in the Indian football community due to Super League Kerala. On the contrary, Tamilnadu football is dead silent due to the lack of existence of a state league.

Kali Alaudeen as the coach of Chennaiyin FC reserve team

I am disappointed. When Chennai City FC was there, so many players got the opportunity to play on the national stage. Now, we don’t even have a league. Chennai was once a place where a lot of interstate club tournaments used to happen. Kerala Football Association is doing good now. I sincerely believe Super League Kerala will bring positive changes in Kerala football. We need more clubs and I don’t think only Kerala Blasters and Gokulam Kerala can give opportunities for all the players in the state.

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When asked the classic concluding question of where he wants to see him after five years, the Thoothukudi man and a fan of Derrick Pereira didn’t hesitate to open up.

All the players want to represent their country and all the coaches want to coach their national team. I am no different. I want to train the Indian team and I know it is challenging. But, I am ready for it. Football has given me everything in my life and I want to give something back for the game,” Kali concluded.