On May 30, East Bengal will be playing their last match against Shillong Lajong and perhaps that will be for the last time Eelco Schattorie will be seen at the Red and Gold dug out wearing his signature white T-shirt and laying the strategy for the team. As per plan, Eelco will be bidding adieu to Kolkata and will leave for Oman on May 31. After defeating Santosh Kashyap’s Royal Wahingdoh, on Sunday, East Bengal’s Dutch Coach was seen sharing his moments of Ups and Downs in East Bengal at the lobby of a five star hotel at Rajarhat. Sulaya Sinha did not miss the expression of Eelco Schattorie as he spoke about his joy, disappointment, passion and intention of coaching in the future. Here are some of the excerpts from the interview of the Dutch coach to Kolkata 24×7 .
Kolkata24x7: It seems you are in a hurry to go back home? What is the reason for this rush?
Eelco: To be honest, East Bengal is a big name in the history of Indian football. Wherever I have been the coach in India, I had developed a good relation with the club authorities. But nothing of that sort has happened with the East Bengal officials. I never felt so lonely elsewhere. I only had a few words with the manager of the team, Alvito D’Cunha. Later, spoke with Nitu (Debabrata Sarkar). The other officials did not say a word about the team. They have lost interest in me hence, I am eagerly waiting for the day of my departure.
Kolkata24x7: Did East Bengal tell you that the officials do not want you as the coach for the next season?
Eelco: They haven’t told me anything formally yet. But I could understand that they are in search of the new coach for the next season. The names of Karim (Bencherifa) and (Subhas)Bhowmick could be heard in the interiors. I will resign from my job after I League gets over.
Kolkata24x7: Did East Bengal sign you for this season only? What was the agreement between you and East Bengal?
Eelco: Yes, I was signed as the coach for 3 and half months. The main problem in East Bengal is the lack of proper communication. I was asked whether I am interested to coach East Bengal. I said ‘yes’. But the officials did not tell me about the poor fitness of the players and the injuries they bore from before.
Kolkata24x7: But when you had taken up the job as the head coach of East Bengal, is it not your responsibility to ask about the team , know about the ground conditions and take necessary details of the team?
Eelco: I had taken up the coaching at the midway of the season. At this stage why would the officials say that their club’s players are unfit? Moreover, Alvito did not know much about the condition. I had asked the seniors like that of Deepak and Ranty. They said that most of the footballers were fit. Not only about fitness, the officials did not even tell me about the suspension of Raju, Gurbinder and Arnab for a total number of three times. And the club never stood by me. They always listened to the outsiders. They never told me that Coach, the club is beside you. To keep an U-23 footballer, I had benched Lobo many times. Questions were raised in this regard also.
Kolkata24x7: You are talking of upcoming footballers. But the way Armando had used Prahlad and Abinash, you were not seen making them take the field. They performed well in the Kolkata League. Why?
Eelco: I would have also used them. Colaco build the team and got much more time than me. Due to the unavailability of the seniors during the ISL, Colaco could utilize his juniors. I did not get that much of time.
Kolkata24x7: At the middle of the season, you implemented the Diamond formation inspite of knowing that the footballers are not habituated in it. Why?
Eelco: Morgan had played in this formation too. I had even played in the Diamond formation in United Sports Club. It worked out against Dempo. But due to injury I had to make 4 replacements in the team. That is when, it suffered. I always preferred not to play Dudu and Ranty at the same line for the team’s purpose. But as things turned up and surfaced, I was caught on the wrong foot and my decision turned out to be a mistake at the end.
Kolkata24x7: Do you think that the Red and Gold footballers have not yet been able to come out of the Morgan era?
Eelco: No! (Pause… )I do not think so. Mehtab has played under Morgan but he has learnt more from me. Morgan had a good relation with the footballers but in terms of coaching, I am technically a step ahead.
Kolkata24x7: What it is the pressure of being the coach in Kolkata and that too a coach of one of the Kolkata giants?
Eelco: I would like to give an advice to the Kolkata clubs. There is no point pondering over the past, thinking of how many trophies they have won at one time. It is about the present scenario. I have coached in 11 clubs. But in nowhere I have seen the officials dictate over the coach. The officials should give freedom to the coach, asst. coach and the physio and develop the infrastructure for better results.
Kolkata24x7: Didn’t you get freedom in United Sports Club even?
Eelco: Yes! The officials did not interfere in my work over there. I worked in a free mind at United Sports Club
Kolkata24x7: Coaching in East Bengal was not a joyous affair. Would you like to be the coach of a Kolkata club in future?
Eelco: I love challenges. Would definitely think of coaching if I get any offer from Kolkata
Kolkata24x7: How would you describe the experience at East Bengal in one line?
Eelco: (Thinks for a while..) I was at the right place in the wrong time.
Kolkata24x7: Did any club give you an offer?
Eelco: No, as of now. Earlier Pune had showed interest. Presently, my manager is in talks with a few clubs both in and out of India. Let’s see, what happens…
Kolkata24x7: You had wanted to coach the Indian football team
Eelco: Oh Yes! Obviously ma’am. It is an honour to be the coach of India. There are many talents in Indian football. I would have loved to tap those.
Kolkata24x7: Last but not the least, what are you taking back with you from the City of Joy?
Eelco: (With a slight smile..) Victoria Memorial is beautiful! I can now understand the game of Kabaddi a bit. Have seen a few Bollywood movies, the melody of the songs here are soul stirring (although I did not understand the meaning of it). I was taken aback by the beautiful colours of Holi. Have tasted a few of the Bengali foods even and especially have liked ‘Dal’ and ‘Roti’ .
Written by Spandan Banerjee.
Kolkata24x7 wishes Eelco Schattorie all the very best for his future and also thanks him for giving his precious time for this interview.