Technology helps in two fields here.
Firstly, there will be a major boost to the quality of human coaching. China has been moving quickly to improve its coaching education program in terms of quality and quantity. Once again however, technology opens up coaching education to all corners of China and India. Online programs and state of the art platforms give access to courses, mentorships and even – at least in part – coaching licenses.
“In India less than 1,800 coaches have continental licences through the AFC. This includes all levels,” Dinesh Nair, of the Association of Indian Football Coaches, said. “Japan has 1,900 goalkeeping coaches alone. That’s the kind of gap we are talking about. Iceland has more coaches than we do and they are smaller than most cities in India. If you look at the numbers, we need 2,000 coaches just in Mumbai.”
Secondly, it can connect young players directly to coaching expertise from all over the world. The technology exists (coming soon to ZujuGP!) for youngsters to use their portable devices to learn drills and techniques and receive top-level feedback. With China and India being huge countries, there is no doubt that potential talent falls through big holes in the net. It is not too dissimilar to China’s Ping An Good Doctor, the country’s one-stop healthcare ecosystem platform, which connects people in rural parts of the country with specialised medical knowledge. This can be AI which has been used in China.
In 2017, researchers created a system that passed the Chinese medical exam with a score that was better than 96 per cent of the human exam-takers. The exam does not only test what you know but also sees if you can use that knowledge to make the necessary decisions.
China is already a leader in this field and there is no reason why a football equivalent could not connect players all over the country and in India, with top coaches around the world.
Get on the pitch
It has long been said, more about China than India but the point remains, that “with such massive populations, it is only a matter of time before they find 11 world-class players”. It’s a nice line but ignores the fact that not enough children actually play the game. In a report dated in 2010, it was found that China had around 10,000 registered U-12 players, compared to 300,000 in Japan despite having a population roughly ten times larger. There were no figures for India but the numbers were thought to be similarly small.
Platforms like ZujuGP can give young talent the necessary grounding to develop as football players. Once that goal is achieved, the next step is to play. We have already seen how technology can help young players not only find places to play but also find teams to play for or against. Our devices can connect us all over the world but can also give us a chance to play just down the road.