DUBAI: Football coaches impart training during a session.
DUBAI: Football coaches impart training during a session.

DUBAI: The futuristic Koora Dome inside Al-Wasl’s training facility has been graced by several footballing greats. From Ronaldinho, who has his academy at the same venue, to Edgar Davids and Nicolas Anelka.

On Friday, football coaches from Pakistan were on that same synthetic 4G pitch inside the air-conditioned venue; the first of its kind in the UAE to help nurture footballing talent by giving them opportunities to play despite the harsh Middle Eastern heat, learning the Liverpool way.

The programme under which 12 coaches are being taught by the Liverpool International Academy coaches for three days is also the first of its kind. This, in fact, is a pilot project launched by the club’s title sponsors Standard Chartered and Pakistan being the first market selected for it.

Liverpool’s blistering rise back to the top of English football has made the club focus on community outreach. How good that outreach is will be gauged when 12 coaches from each of the community centres run by Pakistani second-division club Karachi United go back and teach the youngsters the Liverpool way.

“It’s basically about keeping a high tempo, a high press in which even when you lose the ball you recover it very quickly and make a quick transition to attack.” one of the coaches told Dawn, reflecting on the philosophy introduced by Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp that turned around the fortunes of the club since he took over five years ago.

Klopp led Liverpool to the Champions League title last year and the European champions are well on their way to ending a 30-year drought for the English title.

Now, Liverpool want their imprint on coaching across the globe. Over the three-day Train the Trainer Programme, Liverpool International Academy coaches Steven Gillespie and Paul O’ Brien will hope to ingrain that Liverpool philosophy into the minds of the coaches.

If effectively transferred to the grassroots level in Pakistan, it could, maybe some day, at the very least see a Pakistani club go shoulder to shoulder against Emiratis Al-Wasl, once famously coached by Argentine legend Diego Maradona, in the AFC Champions League.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020

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