Interview with Eelco Schattorie

ABCDFootball's Debraj Banerjee(left) met with Eelco Schattorie, United SC Coach in a candid Interview caught up with United SC's dutch coach Eelco Schattorie when the team arrived in Pune. We discussed on various aspects starting from United SC to the national team. We also spoke about the factors affecting the growth of Indian football while also giving some time towards the IMG-R League. We also had a good conversation on Indian National Team. The discussion went on for hours as Eelco tried to explain each of his points with every possible dimension. Find below the complete interview of United SC head coach Eelco Schattorie, taken by me(Debraj Banerjee) while being accompanied by Sourav Mahato.

Debraj Banerjee: How do you feel about Indian football since joining United SC?

Eelco Schattorie: I have gone to several parts of the world and I can say that talent is there everywhere. And a country has 1.3 billion people which is 1/5th of the world population, I am not 100% but 1000% sure that in this counry there are enough talent to develop football. To elaborate that point, taking an example of Brazil, who has won the most number of World Cups. If you compare Brazil from other top footballing nations, you would find that Brazil would stand high on population. What I mean to say by that, is if you have more to choose from than it’s also a bigger chance that you will flourish. Like Holland has 16 million people but we would never become world champions as there is not much depth. Brazil has that for each position 5-10-20 players to choose from. India would be able to do the same, the only thing that’s lacking is the INFRASTRUCTURE. In clubs there is no proper grass root development.  I think the football federation(AIFF) should take more care of putting more money on development. You have very big country which means you have enough space to implement that. Its not about creating High Tech Football Development Centres but decent football fields. Coaches working on the club(not only for i-League clubs) having proper diploma and a good beckground and knowledge. I am sure that is happening already as we speak but the entire process could be improved by leaps and bounds.

Debraj Banerjee: You have UEFA Pro License?

Eelco Schattorie: Yes, I have UEFA Pro License. I did the entire licensing course from Holland, who along with Germany have the highest reputation in terms of the quality of the course. Holland and Germany are known for being the benchmark for Pro License, so if you are a coach who wants to get a Pro License, these two countries should be your destination. If you go to England where you can also get the Pro License, but there the course is only of 2-3 weeks whereas in Holland/Germany you could get much wider grasp on different subjects as the whole course is done throughout an entire calender year.

Debraj Banerjee: Any other cources or licenses you are trying to acquire?
Eelco Schattorie during a press conference
Eelco Schattorie: Yes, off-course.Only a year before I went to Alkmaar, Holland, where there is a good coach for Physical training. If I had the chance I would like to school myself in other things but at this moment, its difficult being here and do all those. But, I believe in life I would like to take the opportunities to get extra knowledge from here and there on certain subjects like practical development. I would like to visit clubs and know how they work.

Debraj Banerjee: If you were to become the National coach of India what would you have done differently?

Eelco Schattorie: Being national team coach is very difficult. You don’t get much time to interact and train your players to play your way. The only thing I would do different is that I would visit each club a week or may be every two weeks, talk to the coach and see their training and from there, I would be selecting my set of players. But then again, it’s a personal thing and any other person might think differently.

I even spoke with Wim Koervermans(the current National Team Coach), but he thought differently. Wim told me that he tried to do that while he was in Ireland, but it didn’t work out as he felt the coaches felt thretened.

Regarding the team selection, it completely depends on what style you play and what you prefer, like, I choose players which other coaches might never choose and vice versa, is also possible.

Debraj Banerjee: Though its difficult for a coach to comment but if you had to choose a player of United SC,which player would you rate the most?

Mohammed Rafique,
United SC
Eelco Schattorie: I think that Mohammed Rafique and Lalkamal Bhowmick really have natural talents in them. Now, I have Souvik Chakraborty, who came from Air India, who is getting better each day he is playing and its not because of me but because the way we train, you can figure the way he is developing.

But overall, if I had to choose a player with most potential, I would choose Mohammed Rafique. He has the right ability, the natural talent and the ability to score goals. For me, I like to play him in a withdrawn striker position. He has the physical ability to run past defenders around the clock for full 90 minutes, but the only thing I would like to improve in him, is his mentality.

Again, if I stand at the opposite side, I would also like to name Deepak Mondal who is on the latter stages of his age, I didn’t see a better defender than Deepak in the whole league. Deepak stands out from the rest of the queue of Indian defenders in terms of a unique ability called Decision making. I believe Indian players lack in decision making and the reason behind that is the way they are trained and with no disrespect, it has something to do with your culture. It is not wrong to respect older people but there should be some filter on the way it is implemented. I come from a place where the culture is exactly the opposite, Dutch people always think they know better . You have to find a proper balance in-between the two cultures.

In football, a coach can lay out the strategy but at certain point of time, it’s the players who have to make their own decisions and that’s something I feel Indian players are lacking.

Debraj Banerjee: We have seen pictures of yours with laptop and some equipments in the training ground with United SC, what is that all about?

Eelco Schattorie: That is there for physical training to monitor the intensity you train with. The only problem is that I am there all alone. Normally I would hand it over to the physical trainer to monitor. The laptop is connected to a device which monitors all the field and all players having a heart rate meter.

Debraj Banerjee: Do you use the equipment during all the training sessions?

Eelco Schattorie: In the beginning, I used it a few times. I brought the kit myself but the only problem is before using the equipment, you would have to do a lot of pre-training work to set-up the equipment. That is why I use it less often now.

Debraj Banerjee: Is sponsorship woes affecting the morale of the team?

Eelco Schattorie: No. If morale would have been the factor, I don’t feel we would be standing in a position like this in the Airtel i-League. The only thing is that, I don’t know how long will it stay. At the end of the day, everyone wants to get their salary and if you don’t get your salary for 3-4 months, its tough. So, I give credit to the players for doing such a fantastic work on the field.

Debraj Banerjee: As per our statistics from, we see that you have scored almost 5 times more in the second half than the first half. Is there any particular reason behind this?

Eelco Schattorie: This is what even Nabab(Bhattacharya) pointed me out, that we play better in second half than the first half. If you have a lot of time and opportunities to train before a game to make tactical changes, it would influence the performance in the game but when you don’t get much time to make the tactical changes, and go into a game only to see certain aspects not working as you planned or rather did not want to see as a coach then in half time, I am a coach who is not afraid to bring in the changes. If I have to score goals and for that need to play with three defenders, I would play with three man defense or even with two, if the situation is worse.

I remember the AFC Cup semi final match at Salt Lake Stadium, when East Bengal played the team from Kuwait(Kuwait SC), during the first half East Bengal were down by two goals and on the verge of first half whistle, one of the Kuwait SC players got a red card which means the Kuwait team would have to play the rest of the 45 minutes with 10 players against 11 players of East Bengal and on the other side, East Bengal needed to score 3-4 goals. And what you see in the second half is that the coach(East Bengal) play the sameformation without adding an extra striker or an extra midfielder despite having nothing to loose. These things I would never do because you have nothing to loose. If you ask me,it’s better to loose by 3-0, 4-0 or even 5-0 than to loose 2-0 without trying.

If you don’t take the risk you would never win the long race. Sometimes you could get lucky but not on the longer run.Similarly, I saw the game of Mohammedan Sporting against Mohun Bagan and I was surprised to see their top scorer, Brazilian forward Joshimar starting from the bench. Things like these might be because of being more cautious in a big game. As far as I know myself I would never use these kind of changes.

I would prefer to play go all out with full confidence, attack minded than to loose out a match trying to concede less goals. At the end of the day, if your employers are not happy then its better to get kicked out by doing things your way than to be thrown out without even trying.

Debraj Banerjee: It’s not a hidden fact that Kolkata clubs are known for frequently changing their coach. United SC are an exception to that.

Eelco Schattorie: Last year when I came, United SC wanted to become champions. When I joined the league we had played four games, which is always a difficult stage because you need time by your side as a coach to understand and assess the quality of the players first. We had players like Carlos Hernandez, who was a very good player, a little overweight when he came and took time to gain complete fitness. And then,there are people who like to have their say on strategies and team selection just because they pay money for the club and I am very loud and clear on this aspect that you don’t tell the coach what to do and what not to do with my team because its my job. 

Before or during the game, Management should never-ever interfere a coach on what to do and what not to do, after the game we can sit and discuss why certain strategy was employed. 

Taking an instance of you going to a doctor and he is prescribing you a medicine, at that moment, you cannot argue with the doctor on the medicine he is giving. Its exactly the same like everyone might know driving a car but not each of them know how to drive a formula-one car. Everyone know something about football, but that does not imply that they have in-depth knowledge of the game. Management cannot tell a coach on what to do and what not to do, especially when you bring a coach from outside who have the credential and profile and if that happens, you can expect problems in the long run.

Debraj Banerjee: If United SC are down by a goal or two after the first half, what does Eelco Schattorie say to his players?

Eelco Schattorie: I played games in the past, facing similar situation(we are down by a goal or two) despite being the better side. In some cases because of some bad decisions by the referee.
I remember the game against Salgaocar FC in the Airtel i-League, when we didn’t play really good and they were leading by a goal. Though not at our best, we equalized through Eric Brown as he struck a superb goal from outside the box, from around 30 yards, but that was somehow rediculously given as offside.

If we are down while playing good, I would be backing up my players to keep up the same.

But if we are not good, like the match against Churchill Brothers when we did two stupid mistakes which we earlier had chalked out before the match, I went to the players during the lemon break and told them, “Look, if we score within the next 10 minutes, we are good else we are going to make these changes to the strategy.” I didn’t say them anything else and walked out becaue I wanted them to know what I mean and more importantly, wanted them to feel the aggression and be more serious and sharp, and we managed to turn that game around by putting more effort and change in strategy(with 3 defenders) worked. Everyone realized that I was not happy with the first half performance and that was necessary to make them understand. Sometimes, you could be easy but some times you have to bring some changes. Based on the situation, sometime coach needs to be the motivator and sometime he needs to be more aggressive.

Debraj Banerjee: Whom do you rate best among all the Clubs in this year's Airtel i-League?

Eelco Schattorie: East Bengal should have won last year and have the best team this year also
Eelco Schattorie: I believe East Bengal have the best team in India. They have enough depth to win the league and I believe they should already have won the league last year but I guess too many matches with i-League, CFL and other tournaments like AFC Cup and they were not propely able to set their priorities. This year they still have a very good squad and the fact that, they can field 3 different teams without comprimising on their quality. Their start has not been the best as I believe the (ex)coach (Falopa), with all due respect did not field the players at proper positions and most importantly, players did not look very happy.

Salgaocar FC on the other hand are a perfect example of a team with low resources but proper team effort. I believe they(Salgaocar FC) are a great example of “team work” as I see them working so hard in proper synchronization which always makes them a threat.

Debraj Banerjee: About the match timings/Schedule in i-League. Also about playing on Astro-turf under the sun.

Eelco Schattorie: Astro-turf holds the heat which in-turn affects the players performance as lots of body fluids are consumed which brings in fatigue to the players. The human brain becomes slower to react and the game becomes slower which overall affects the quality of football represented. If it happens once in a while its not a major issue, but not regularly. Games whould be played at the proper temperature or maybe in the evening, as working people or students could enjoy the matches.

Debraj Banerjee: Crowd support in Kalyani.

Eelco Schattorie: We are the only team in Kolkata who does not have proper fan base. We have been in Sikkim, Shillong and also Kolkata for that matter, when crowd support is good the players tend to perform better as they try to give their very best.

A club should have its own identity, starting from its own training ground. Until and unless, you don’t have your own identity, you cannot expect to have proper fanbase.

Nabab(Bhattacharya) chose to play our home matches in Kalyani, which is a small city. We will have loyal set of fans but can’t grow the fanbase to much in numbers.  I believe maybe Kolkata is a better option to build a fanbase, starting from having your own piece of ground and building your club around that to generate more fanbase.

Debraj Banerjee: How important is it you feel that clubs should have their name linked to the city they belong to?

Eelco Schattorie: Kids who play football, identify themselves with professional footballers. Others identify themselves with the area they come from. The name of the club plays in significant factor in generating the fanbase, and once its linked to your city, you tend to get more attached to it as you feel connected with the club name.

Debraj Banerjee: In India major share of football loving crowds are visible in North-East than other parts where the attendence is comparitively lesser. How do you feel it affects the players and their on-field performance?

Eelco Schattorie: Imagine a crowd of thousands supporting you in the stadium chanting your name, it gives you the reason to believe in yourself and play tirelessly. The same point is valid for coaches also.

Debraj Banerjee: Regarding Youth Development in i-League Clubs.

Eelco Schattorie: Pune FC I believe are front runners by some distance among the i-League clubs. They have a good set-up for youth development and it will help in the longer run. Also, I believe Shillong Lajong FC are making good strides in this regard.

In the end, if a country needs smart people to develop itself, you would need them to go to school and have education. In a much similar way, football requires players to learn from young age just like primary education. The better the youth setup, the brighter is the future.

Debraj Banerjee: Current standings of i-League Goal Scorers show the dominance of foreign players. How much does it impact the development of football?

Eelco Schattorie: If the development is from young age, you would find better results but if you don’t have that you would need some modifications in the rulebook. If 4 foreigners are allowed to be fielded that too in key positions at the cost of indians sitting at the bench.

The same problem is with teams like England, where there are so many players from all-across the world which is not helping English football and that itself is responsible for England’s poor outings in International tournaments.

Debraj Banerjee: Do you feel that i-League should involve more clubs than what we have at present?

Eelco Schattorie: At this moment, No. It has to do something to do with the way the league is scheduled. At this moment its ridiculous. For instance, wehad a high pressure game against East Bengal and right after the matchday I had to travel to Pune to face Pune FC within next 3-4 day which means my players miss out on training sessions and there is no recovery time. On the other hand, you see some teams play 6-7 games on-stretch at home while some team keep on travelling for continuous matches. If this is the way you schedule the matches, bigger teams would face bigger problems.

Debraj Banerjee: What Indian football lacks apart from Infrastructure?

Eelco Schattorie: The most important thing that India lacks is proper Infrastructure, apart from that I believe Indian players needs to let go “political thinking”. To develop in any field you need to employ “professional thinking” rather than “political thinking”.

To develop in any field you need to employ “professional thinking” rather than “political thinking”. 

If you make a person realize about his/her mistakes, there are two ways that the other person can take your suggestion. He can accept your view and try to learn a way to sort out his shortcomings or he could easily feel unease at the points you made and further get demotivated. As a coach, you need to be very careful at what you say as I personally know “when to say what to which players”.

Overall, I would like to say that people should try to be more open minded and improve their mentality as it would only help them to become a better person or player.

You have to find the proper balance, you have to be humble and follow the course/programme, but at the same time but if anything you feel is not good enough, you need to come out of the shakles and speak out.

Debraj Banerjee: Indian players playing in Europe.

Eelco Schattorie: If players who are already matured directly go for foreign trials, they won’t stand any chance at top leagues in the world. If they get the time to adapt there, by going at a very early stage of their career like early 20’s or even younger, then they could get earn a contract. Everywhere in the world there is talent but the talents needs to be nurtured at a young age and not at the age of 24-25-26.

Debraj Banerjee: Indian youngsters take up the game seriously at around an average age of 15-16 while in proper footballing nations you would find that age to be around 8-10. How much does it affect in the growth?

Young kids should take up football at around 8-10 years of age
Eelco Schattorie: That’s a very critical point towards development of a player. You miss out a lot of hours of training if you start late. Generally around the time of 12-14 years, the learning phase is at peak. If you start playing after that age, you are lagging behind and overall, it becomes impossible to catch up with those nations where the age is around 8-10.

Debraj Banerjee: Based on your experiences with other Asian Countries in the past, how much difference in quality you see between them and us?

Eelco Schattorie: If you see nations like South Kora, Japan, China and gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, they were at one stage at the same level with India but looking at them now they are few levels above us. They brought in lot of knowledge from outside and implemented that successfully to achieve what they are. If we can have similar implementation I am sure India could still be able to catch them.

Debraj Banerjee: Regarding IMG-R League..

Eelco Schattorie: If anybody comes and says to me that IMG-R League would benefit Indian Football, I would be the first one to say him, “You have no idea of football”. A 3-4 months long league would never benefit football by any means.

Lets say the league becomes a huge success and huge number of people pour in to watch the games of IMG-R League.It will be like you putting a cherry on top of a cake, you will get good crowd but once you remove the cherry, no one will come. If the 3 months league would be a hit, it will mean that no one would come to watch i-League as the spectators would want to see the big stars in action than the one’s playing in the i-League.

Debraj Banerjee: Full Time Second Division/Reserve League.

Eelco Schattorie: As I said, Infrastucture plays a huge role in the overall development of football and it starts from the base. Any development programme in order to succeed follows a pyramid structure and that starts from a solid base and gradually becomes smaller. From what I have understood, India earlier used long ball strategy and played a more of physical game which meant that players having good physique were selected while compromising on players having better skill but not such of a good physique. You can’t afford to loose out those skilled players. Where there is talent, you cannot afford to make those players sit on the bench and just train. Match practice is essential, and if players are not allowed to play competitive matches, they don’t grow as a footballer. Probably a full time second division could be fruitful in that matter.

Debraj Banerjee: How do you see Calcutta Football League(CFL) as a coach – a possible silverware or a chance to field young and fringe players?

Regarding Calcutta Football League's
Eelco Schattorie: Absolutely(chance to field young/fringe players). As I said earlier, match experience is vital for a player’s growth. Besides the fact that nobody outside Kolkata, with exception to a few football-knowledgable states know about CFL. I see fans crying out loud for Calcutta Football League but its not going to do any good to your team except for the fact that it is a platform to test your bench strength. We see only mostly either of the two clubs(Mohun Bagan and East Bengal) winning the CFL for most number of times, but they could hardly get the silverware in i-League maybe because the teams participating in the CFL are not of such high standards and in-turn it brings more fatigue to the team if a top team try to win it. If they can win both(CFL and i-League), then I would respect CFL as an important league to win, but till then I would choose the second option.

Debraj Banerjee: How much of a contributing factor is media attention for Indian Football which is overshadowed by Cricket mostly?

Eelco Schattorie: I believe India gets more media attention than in middle-east. In that way, it gives a good exposure but overall,there is always a room for improvement.

We at ABCDFootball are very thankful to Eelco Schattorie and United Sports Club to make the interview possible and would hope that United SC could clear-out the off-field obstacles they are currently facing. Hope you enjoyed our interview of the United Sports Club Coach.

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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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