Coach Talk Irish Grassroots Football

COACHTALK: Mark Rodricks

We head to India this week and speak to u10’s Pune FC Coach Mark Rodricks.

TCD: Did you play football before you started coaching?

MR: I have been playing since the age of 9 and still continue do so. So that’s been almost 15 years now of playing football.

TCD: How did you get into coaching?

MR: Since a young age, I’ve been close to the professional clubs in India and have followed the I-League clubs. Somehow running 5 rounds of a ground and then kick the ball around didn’t seem to appeal to me as how a person became a good footballer. Football coaching methods in India are archaic and I never got taught the right way or had the chances to grow like the kids these days have. Coaching was a natural progression to the change I wanted to see.

TCD: What is your current role at Pune FC?

I am the head coach of the U-10’s at Pune FC. That is formulating and implementing the program in accordance with the club’s footballing policies. I work closely with the Academy Director on this program.

TCD: What changes would you make to the grassroots game?

MR: Since this is India centric, I have a fair few things I would like to change:

  • Indulge the kids to use a football and be comfortable with it rather than have them run around the pitch. Having a football at their feet is the most important part of their learning.
  • Take corporal punishment completely out of the game.
  • Focusing more on helping the kids love the game and cultivate that passion. This means making the sessions fun.
  • Not stifling a kid’s progress to a certain playing position on the field. A player has to play across the field and can then decide for him/herself what they like.
  • Tournaments should have rules where there’s either no substitutes bench or rules where all children get up and play the game. No kid in the age group 6 to 14 would want to be sitting on the bench and watching a game.
  • Coaches need to remember that the game is the biggest teacher of all, and what a child can learn by playing, a coach cannot explain that in words.
  • Bring other sports as part of their education. Coaching only football is dangerous. And all round development is vital.

TCD: What age to kids move to the 11v11 game in India?

MR: As far as my knowledge goes, school level would be as early as 10 but academies are 12+ years and above.

TCD: What is your coaching Philosophy?

MR: With the right amount of information at the right time, I love for players to experiment and learn things on their own. I encourage the boys to use their head and their brains! Learning something new every day is a vital part of their learning. Since I coach kids mostly who are under U-10, I do not impose a playing style on the kids other than ensuring the kids are comfortable with the ball at their feet. I encourage 1v1’s and try and cultivate fair play and a will to succeed.

TCD: Have you any mentors?

MR: I have a lot of people who have helped me through the years but I try and take the most out of players, coaches and anyone involved in the sport. It helps me with my learning and to be a better coach.

kids_slumTCD: What kind of player do you like working with?

MR: Each player brings something unique and different to the table, especially at a young age. At this age, your coaching learning sometimes gets thrown out of the window. The kids coerce you into improvising. I try and learn from each and every kid I coach.

A love for the sport and the willingness to learn in a tiny tot is an added bonus since that’s half your work done.

TCD: What is the future of football in India?

As much as I’d like to sugarcoat this and paint a rosy picture, since the apex body in India doesn’t seem to be doing much for the sport in the country, even with a large talent pool being the 2nd largest population in the world, we lack far behind Asian countries, let alone European/African/South American countries.

We need more coach educators, licensed coaches and an impetus on an all-round learning along with infrastructure easily available. These all are ingredients for shaping a positive future.

A little nudge and football can be sent on its way in India.


TCD would like to Thank Mark for this interview. You can follow Mark on twitter @markrodricks

I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or drop me an email at If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend, a fellow coach.  Thanks for reading, as always.

Please follow me on twitter @Coachdiary


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Facebook comments:


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.