Renedy Singh: Coaching beyond the Pitch in the times of corona

There are a few people who love football and sacrifice as much for the game as Renedy Singh does. The former East Bengal and Mohun Bagan midfielder enjoyed an illustrious career as a player but refused to let his football career stop. After hanging up his boots, Renedy took up coaching and was the assistant coach at ISL side Pune City for two seasons before a short but successful stint as head coach of NEROCA FC. He has also gone on to become one of the best commentators and pundits in Indian football.

However, in spite of all that he’s achieved after his playing days, Renedy remains grounded as ever and firmly believes he’s just still starting out in this new chapter.

“Now is the time for me to do well in coaching. It’s the same as the 6 and half years I worked my heart out at Tata Football Academy to become the player I was. Now I have to work the same to become the coach I want to be.”

In a career that is slowly coming to a full circle, the former midfielder is back to where it all started for him. Having merged his Renedy Football School with Classic Football Academy, Renedy is now the technical director at CFA Imphal, looking after hundreds of players at various age levels. Speaking to Ukhrul Times in an exclusive interview, Renedy shared his determination to provide the best possible training for his players while also sharing how he’s continued to reach out to his players amid the pandemic.

A huge fan of the modern brand of fast paced possession and attacking European football, Renedy’s philosophy has always been to take players to that level; or at least, close to it.

“To play different style of game from what we’ve been playing in India for the last two and a half years, we have to train. Players need to be comfortable with the ball anywhere on the pitch; starting from the goalkeepers to the defenders. Once the foundation is right, we can play any style of football and it’s my job to teach them the foundation, the basics.”

In the duration of a little over a year since Renedy has taken charge of CFA, things have been looking up for Manipur football. His philosophy is slowly being put to life at Classic Football Academy. The results on the pitch have been a testament with his youngsters playing beautiful possession based passing football. The pandemic, however, brought a screeching halt to most activities and sporting activities including football took a big hit. But, to a person for whom football matters more than anything, it was going to take more than just a virus to stop Renedy.

Amidst the pandemic, he has continued to look out for his players more than ever. To make sure the players stay fit and continue to learn, Renedy made it a case to visit the players at their houses and provide football and boots to those who didn’t have them. His schedule hasn’t changed one bit either as he keeps on creating daily training programs for his students, sending it through WhatsApp groups.

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Renedy visiting players at their houses

But it doesn’t just end with football. His role as a coach goes beyond just giving training and talking tactics. Thangmeiso Siro, one of the coaches at Classic Football Academy, speaking to Ukhrul Times refers to Renedy as more than just being a coach.

“People might say I’m tooting his horn because I work with him but I can genuinely say that he’s one of the best persons I’ve come across. What he does for the players and us coaches is something I’ve never seen before in my life.

He often calls me up and asks me if I need anything. He makes sure all my needs are met and the same goes with all the coaches and players he works with.”

The lockdown also laid bare the situation of poverty in Manipur. With most of the daily labourers unable to earn amidst the lockdown, the poorest among the society have been affected the most. A lot of the young footballers come from these families and look at football as the one way ticket out of poverty. On top of visiting the houses of the players to provide them with football and boots, Renedy has also been helping a number of players get the bare necessity breakfast diet of oats, eggs and milk.

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Renedy bringing the best out of football

“What kills me is that 99% of the players are below the poverty line. When I hear that they don’t even have the means to eat breakfast, as a human being, it deeply saddens me. And if I don’t help them as much as I can, what’s the use?

Of course I cannot look after everything for them but the basics, whatever little things I can give them, personally and also through the help of my friend’s support, I want to. We have to support them for at least 2 years and max 4 years and if they are really good, they’ll get up to the mark and make it. But if we don’t help them today, most of them will never be able to realise their potential.”

In Europe, top coaches are referred to as managers because their job implies just more than coaching but man managing each and every player to get the best out of them. And as his style of football inspired by European football starts to take shape, Renedy is also slowly becoming a coach of different crop.

In spite of all that he’s done for his players, Renedy refuses to bask in praises. To him, all of it is giving back to the game that’s given him so much. His rigorous discipline and empathy in his coaching also streams from the hunger to become one of the best in the job

“If I want to be the best, my players have to be the best and I have to give them the best. For that, I am willing to sacrifice and work honestly with the hope that three four years down the line, things will be different.”

The pandemic has been a test for all of us. And in the plight of the pandemic, Renedy has truly shone through as a top human being on his way to becoming a top coach!

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