'I want FC Kochin back in NFL' - Eric Ofori Antwi Bangalore, May 10: It has been a long and bumpy ride for FC Kochin. From being launched as India's first professional club in 1997 with stars like IM Vijayan in its ranks, FC Kochin have seen it all. A bright first year, followed by slow death. And now, FC Kochin, which once represented the First Division of the NFL, now find themselves playing in the Second Division to qualify for the NFL.
However, with a coach who has his roots from Africa and has come to know about the game in the country in a very short span of time, it looks as if FC Kochin will finally make the grade. For someone who is more into the physical aspects of the game, Eric Ofori Antwi of Ghana, is not the kind one can associate with coaching. But he has been doing a good job as far as moulding FC Kochin is concerned.
And it has not been easy, he admits. ''When I first took up the assignment as a coach with FC Kochin in January 2004, it was an altogether difficult outfit,'' says the Accara-based Eric. ''Mind you, they were not like they are today. They were more slower on the field, in awe of the opposition and were not ready to believe in their talent... They thought they could not defeat a more well-known team.''
True to his background and experience, Eric chalked out a calender wherein there was more stress on the physical aspects of a player. ''I have gone through every player's performance and know personally who is stronger and fitter. To someone, who is below others in terms of fitness or skill, I try to do the best to make him equal like others.''
Eric is very clear about coaching a once famous team. ''I know the history of FC Kochin and also the responsibility of coaching it. My first major work is to see that FC Kochin are back in the NFL and after seeing the performance of the team in the Group 'A' matches (of Second Division Phase I) I feel we can make it,'' says Eric.