Nigerian Chima Okorie is regarded to have been one of the best ever foreigners to have played in India. Chima has now taken over the job of coach at the New Delhi Heroes and is working to bring the national capital into football map. The New Delhi Heroes have been taken over by the Osian's Group and is managed by IOS India, who have entrusted Chima with the task of building a professional team in New Delhi.
What made you take up the job at the New Delhi Heroes?
It was on that fateful evening in Calcutta when I met Joy and Nitin, both of IOS. I listened intently at them. It was very refreshing seeing young men explain their vision clearly and without muddle. I was very impressed. Football officials should be able to spell clearly, the vision of their clubs. I was still committed to starting a football Academy with the West Bengal Government which I conveyed to the duo but I knew in my heart of hearts that these two had already stolen the thunder of my desire. This was, when I made up my mind that I was going to join this brigade as soon as a firm offer is made to me from them.
What can we expect from your boys at the New Delhi Heroes?
My boys are working their socks off at the moment. They are all up for it. Judging from their level of commitment, I should say that the boys will be playing a different brand of football from any team in this country. They will be extremely competitive and will not know the word, defeated because they are being moulded to believe that they will always win. Belief is everything. Expect a smooth and fluent flowing football from my boys.
Do you feel any pressure to deliver?
Pressure as they call it, is the key in football and in all else that demands excellence. Personally, I call it challenge and it spurs me on. Of course, I know the vision of the club and I have been entrusted with the realisation of this vision. No mean task. It could have been daunting if I am trusting in my own ability. As it is, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me'.
How is the infrastructure at the New Delhi Heroes?
I have been to a few clubs. I have also seen the working of a few other clubs from a very close range and I can say with much conviction that the facilities available at the New Delhi Heroes is up there with the best in the country. We are hardly two months old as a team. There are many more things in the pipeline and I am sure that by our first birthday, we should be bucking the trend on the best of facilities.
What do say about Delhi as a football city? How would you compare it with Calcutta?
Delhi is a virgin land as far as serious football is concerned. It is a fertile land to sow good football seed. It is not yet steeped in any particular way. It is open to outside the box thinking. The hearts of the people in Delhi is ready to receive and it is important what they receive. In effect, those of us honoured and blessed enough to be the sewers of the football seed in Delhi should sow very good seed and shape what people will say about Delhi as a football city in the future.
If Delhi is a fertile, virgin land as far as football is concerned, Calcutta is already cultivated and unfortunately, not with the best of football seed. It is a small wonder that people still come in their droves to support their teams. Calcutta's heartbeat is football. It will be a long time before any comparison could be made between the two cities. Football wise, Calcutta is on a treadmill. The city should get off it.
Do you see better times for Indian football coming with such corporate backed clubs as the New Delhi Heroes, Mumbai FC and Pune FC?
Certainly! These corporates will not be ploughing the football ground unless they have fresh and exciting visions in their minds. Most of these companies have been very successful in all the projects that they have undertaken in the past. Yes! I see a very rosy future for Indian football.
A much better time than now!
When one talks about the best ever foreigners who have played in India your name is always mentioned.
Who do you think are currently the best foreigners in India?
There are a host of good players currently plying their trade in India. Names like Odafa, Ranti, Barreto, Beto, Stanley, Yakubu, Felix and many more, stand out as very good and talented players.
Has the quality of foreign imports improved over the years?
In my opinion, the quality and quantity is improving all the time. What is intriguing is that some clubs have an adhoc approach in their recruitment of foreigners. With the advent of the Corporates, I expect even better players to be doing their rounds in India.
What do you think about Indian football? Has it improved over the years?
I am one of those who are and have been hopeful for Indian football. I think it's made great leaps over the years. For starters, the domination enjoyed by a particular region over the years has been completely and utterly broken. There are many more younger players, thanks to the Tata Football Academy. I still expect the entire scenario to touch the sky in the not too distant future.
What needs to be done to improve and develop Indian football?
To improve Indian Football, drastic changes have to be made. Kids should be involved in the game from a much younger age. Foundation! That's the word. A strong foundation must be laid and on that, the great future for Indian football can be realised.
What do you think about IndianFootball.Com?
It is a great seed that was sown a few years ago. It was watered, manured and nurtured by very capable and conscientious people. It is flowering and bearing good fruit now. It is a plant that is subjected too much pruning that it may bear even much better than good fruit.
IndianFootball.Com is dependable. I like to say the same for some of the other websites and print media but unfortunately, I cannot.
Many thanks for the time taken to give us this interview and all the best for the season ahead!
the interview was conducted via eMail by Arunava Chaudhuri (July 2007)