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The former Gokulam Kerala head coach has revealed his reasons for leaving the Malabarians…

Churchill Brothers‘ new head coach Fernando Santiago Varela feels the club’s past success makes it a challenging role for him, going into the 2020-21 season of I-League.

Varela was introduced to Indian football by Gokulam Kerala two years ago. The team won the Kerala Premier League before the coach left the club due to personal reasons. A year later, he returned to the Kozhikode-based club and took charge of the club for the 2019-20 campaign.

The Malabarians won the Durand Cup, reached the semi-final of the Sheikh Jamal Cup in Bangladesh and was close to finishing int he top four in the I-League. However, the coach and the club parted ways again and for different reasons this time around, according to the Argentina-born manager. 

“Football really is like that (leaving the club after winning a trophy), we had a great season and played brilliantly at times. It’s also true that Gokulam Kerala wanted to keep me and asked me to stay several times, but we didn’t come to an agreement on a budget or a sports project,” Varela revealed to Goal

Fernando Varela Gokulam Kerala Churchill Brothers

At the end of what was a trophy-winning campaign, Varela was linked to the coaching job at Kolkata giants East Bengal. However, it was not the Red and Golds who had put offers on the table for Varela.

“I had known for some time that I would not renew at Gokulam and several agents contacted me with various offers. Many East Bengal fans and even people with contacts at the club tried to recommend me but I never really received an offer from the club,” Varela said.  

He further added, “Churchill Brothers are a club with history,  with 2 I-Leagues and 3 Durand Cups. For me, it is without a doubt a challenge to be in charge of one of the most important teams in India with history.”

After two separate stints with Gokulam, Varela believes he has learned more about the nitty-gritty of Indian football. 

He said, “One learns from the experience of dealing with players, the leaders and the media. There are many lessons learned but above all, you work for the player, for the team, for the club and always give your best so that the team improves and wins.

“I think it is important for the future of Indian soccer to not compare yourself too much and to set goals that really help the development of Indian soccer. The quality improves when one looks at oneself and tries to learn from one’s own mistakes.” 

Goa, like Kerala, is one of the hotbeds of football in India and Varela believes he can be the person to develop young players at Churchill Brothers like he did at his previous club. 

“Last year, nine players from the reserve team made their debut with me, which shows that I believe in the development of the young players. You can’t always focus on this kind of development because individual development should be based on progression and not by exposing a player more than necessary. It can be counterproductive for his future and the future of the team,” he opined. 

Despite the restrictions imposed on the game by the Coronavirus pandemic, Varela is raring to go at his new club with the ambition of a league victory. 

The virus has put in (restrictions) and we must be prepared to face every situation in a conscious and professional way. The development of physical capacities (of players) will be key to avoiding injuries.

“Being at Churchill Brothers gives you the obligation to always go out and try to win the I-League title, regardless of whether East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are in the running. Churchill is a club with history and it will be our obligation to show character to win every game,” Varela concluded. 

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September 28, 2020
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