6 Ways for Young Children to Improve Football Skills

Conversations with Coach Naushad Moosa (Part 1) – Wisdom from Bengaluru FC’s Head of Youth Development

It’s a quiet Sunday morning during the lockdown as we settle into our conversation with Bengaluru FC’s charming and soft-spoken Head of Youth Development, Naushad Moosa. Armed with an AFC Pro coaching licence and already recognised as one of India’s leading coaches, Moosa tells us how his love affair with football began in the green environs of Mumbai’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) campus (also known as Anushakti Nagar) where his father worked.

The Early Days

Identified as a sporting prodigy by his physical education teacher in school, Moosa was first encouraged to attend a football camp while in 2nd grade and the rest, as they say, is history. From the time he attended the football camp, Moosa’s passion for the beautiful game only grew with age, which led to him being selected for Air India. Soon after joining Air India, his efforts and talent earned him several national call-ups and a glittering career with some of India’s biggest clubs including East Bengal, Mahindra United and Mohammedan Sporting.

Coaching Career

Matching his stellar achievements on the field, his journey as a coach too has been extremely impressive having worked with some of India’s best youth talents at Mumbai FC, Pune FC, Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) and now at one of India’s most professionally managed football clubs, Bengaluru FC. At Bengaluru FC, Moosa plays the dual role as Head of Youth Development and Assistant Coach of the First Team. Currently, he is the critical link between the fantastic work being done by the Bengaluru FC Academy and the senior team.

On Sunday, 16th August, 2020, Coach Moosa spent his valuable time on a live webinar inspiring our Footie First parents and children with insights from his immense knowledge and experience. Here are some of our key learnings from this interaction…

6 Ways for Young Children to Improve Their Football (aged below 12 years)

1. Make the football your friend: This means becoming comfortable moving with the ball – moving slowly while walking and gradually increasing your comfort until you can run at full speed with the ball near you. Like you would with any good friend, the more time you spend with a friend, the better your relationship. The same applies to your football – spend as much time as you can with your football! 🙂

2. Use both feet: Make it a habit to perform exercises and drills with both feet. If you have a weaker foot, use your time outside of regular coaching sessions to improve your skills with your weaker foot. Ultimately, the goal is to make both feet as technically capable as each other. Think of your two feet as though they are two of your own children – treat them the same and show them both equal love! 🙂

3. Use different parts of your foot: To improve your ball control, use different parts of the foot to move, receive and manipulate the ball. This means receiving, dribbling and passing the ball using the inside, outside, sole, lace part and even your heel! Keep being creative with your moves and try to imitate your favourite footballers!

4. Work on receiving the ball & your first touch: Get used to receiving and controlling balls with different parts of your body – foot, thigh, chest, head. You should also get used to receiving the football at different heights – on the ground, with a low bounce and high balls coming at different speeds and trajectories. You can do this by working against a wall or with a partner.

5. Play lots of matches: Practicing hard is important, but only if you get a chance to show your hard-earned skills in football matches! Keep playing tournaments and leagues so that you play at least 30-40 matches in a year. More important than winning or losing is giving your very best every time you step out to practice or play! If you put in your 100% in every match, you’ll never ever really lose!

6. Rotate your position: To truly improve your understanding of football, play in all positions on the pitch – in goal, defence, midfield and attack. Play central, explore your capabilities on the wings and everything in-between. This is important for the holistic development of footballers. It will help you develop versatility and understand the unique challenges and requirements of different positions.

This brings us to the end of Part 1 of this series on Conversations with Coach Naushad Moosa. In the next piece, we’ll get a glimpse of what academy coaches look for in players during selections.