The big interview: Maymol Rocky – No matter how big of a star she is[Aditi Chauhan], if she fits in the team, she fits in and if she doesn’t, she will have to be on the bench

Pulkit Verma  |  Tuff-Questions  |  5 Months Ago

In an exclusive moment of unbridled joy, Team Jersey had the privilege of getting up close and personal with the Metal Woman of India,  the head coach of Indian Women’s football team, Maymol Rocky. Hailing from God’s own country, Kerala, Rocky was plying her trade as an employee of Sports Authority of Goa and was also a major scout in the Indian Women’s League before relinquished as the guiding star of Indian women’s football.


Rocky started her training under Sisto Pius in Goa. From there, she went on to feature in the prestigious women’s league of the nation and turned into a major impetus for the girls’ national team. Team jersey was recently privileged to have spoken to her about different dimensions of her job. Here are the excerpts of the interview:


What are the hardships that you have faced as a player in the first place?

My first challenge was my family. Being a girl and coming into a football was a major challenge. My mother had never seen football before. I started playing first and that was her first experience. It all started at home. There were negatives around. However, my dad and my brother were extremely supportive. They always wanted me to go out and play. They were the ones to persuade my mother to let me go out, take the small shots, run and play. Hence, it all started at home like I mentioned.  Later when I used to come to the ground, travelling was a problem. I used to travel all by myself. At least these days, parents do tag along with their kids. Then in the field, getting along with the players, getting involved with them was also a challenge. It felt like that there were senior players and then I was a beginner. It always felt like being on the other side. So, problems were always there and it started at all the layers I began my career with. You name it and there is a problem. Once, you started playing, things started slowly falling into place. On the contrary, the others were all male coaches and I was the only lady coach.


As you hail from Kerala, do you think that Keralites are conservative? Nikhil from Mumbai asks...

They are conservative. However, the only plus point I had was, that my dad used to work in the Navy. He was very keen on sports. That was my biggest source of inspiration. Otherwise, my mum and my grandmother were always against my playing.”


Malmoy, walk us through your journey…

Probably, I don’t remember my first day in football, when it all started. The reason being, I was an athlete before. For me, a sport was like any game. In my school, it was Kho-Kho. This was not recognised all over India. My physical education teacher recommended me to play for the state level. My mother refused it up front. My father wanted me to go. The ways collided. My mother wanted me to study and my father wanted me to play. Does that happen in other families too? That was quite an unbalanced thing that I am talking about. But then, my father always took over as the lead, and hence, I was into sports from there onwards.” 


When you were growing up, did you face social pressure? Radhika from New Delhi asks...

It was always there from my family like it is still there. They wanted me to get married and settle down. However, I wanted someone who would understand my profession. Every time, I was sitting between two balls and now as well I am sitting between two balls (chuckles). So I made it very clear. If I get someone who would understand my profession, I would settle or else I would not. It is not just me, but I believe that all the women feel the same. I believe if I have worked hard to be here, I will never want to step back.


If you compare the year 2000 when you played your first International game, what has changed in the scene of Indian football? Rohit from Team Jersey asks...

I will say that there is a drastic change in women’s football. When I used to play and what it is now, there is a lot of difference. We have a lot more competitions now than earlier. Getting the opportunity to play now is a lot more than earlier. The things that we have missed in our career, has presented itself now. The money involved in the sport is also a lot more now. In national camps, there is a continuation. Earlier, when we used to play, it used to be one month and then there used to be a break. We will come back the next year and again practice for one year and then again this will break. Things were way too bad then, however, now it has changed and it has changed for the good. However, I believe that girls have started taking things in a lot more easier way. Everything is at their doorstep. They believe that everything will be delivered to them. In our time, we used to work very hard. Despite the fact that the camp was for one year, we still used to work very hard for the tournament. In our time, the dedication was a lot more. The work rate was a lot more. We used to toil to achieve things. However, these days, girls believe that everything will be delivered at their doorstep. The dedication has fallen and I cannot make players like these. The passion for the sport has to come from within. We can guide them or help them. Finally, it has to be the player to execute the lessons inculcated in her. It is for the girls to decide that whether she would like to have a knack for the game or whether she would like to be a pro.


Now that you have achieved so much, how do you feel now? You get to travel places; you get to coach big teams. Reporters are waiting to take your interview. How exactly does it feel?  Rajan from Chhattisgarh asks...

I feel that if you are down to earth, people will always respect you for that. Once you start getting there, and people will not start looking at you in the same way. I know that I will not have this post forever. One day I will be away from sports and I will be back to being a normal person. I would like to be the one that I was. I would just like to be the same sports person I was before. I just want to be the same person for myself. That is the best part that you have achieved. Whenever you have achieved some post, you feel like that you have achieved everything. If I am available at the grassroots centre also, I will provide coaching. I have no shame for it. I won’t feel bad for it. If anyone calls me up today and tells me that there is a camp which needs me, I will always have respect for that person and will be more than happy to turn up. From a groundsman to the person who spearheads our department, I will be available for anyone who will seek my assistance.

For example, you are passing by, and you see girls playing, do you start taking part in that game, or maybe scold them for any mistake? Aniruddha from Mumbai asks...

Definitely no! (Laughs). I will not started playing. I will just sit back and see that how they are doing and what are they doing. I will then start scouting players. It is not just me. If you ask any of the coaches, he or she will be doing the same.


You have worked with Sajid Dar. He is a wonderful man. How do you feel the experience was? How is the atmosphere with and without him in the team? Dalima from New Delhi asks...

Definitely the man was very understanding. I knew him a lot. I will never deny his efforts. He was working with us. He is an experienced coach. He was a really good person to me. Definitely, he is one of the best coaches among India. Whatever, Sir could do, he really did it for the team. The best part for me was getting into the team and heading the team, I believe. I incorporated a comfort zone for the girls. If the girls had any complaint, they can just come down to my room at any point in time. When there was sir, there was a restriction for that. I believe that he is a male and the team being a female, there was this gap and it always led to controversies. This is the best part. I believe that this is the best part that I have created for the girls, where they can lay themselves bare. From my end, whenever I believed that there was a team meeting required, I have always called for it. My entire staff from the manager to the physio is an all-female team. Whenever, we feel that we needed a meeting, maybe after dinner, we will all sit together, have a cup of coffee and discuss. But with the male coach, I believe we cannot have something like that. It has to be a proper procedure. For me, it is always accessible, that I can call the staff at any point in time or I can just get into their rooms. However, as a male coach, it is not always possible.


Coming to a specific player, Aditi Chauhan, she claims to be a star. How do you tend to cope with such personalities? Vrinda from New Delhi asks...

Definitely she is a quite popular player. She is quite a renowned media person. My captain is not that popular in the media but she is the best player that we have currently had in the team. Now with both the players, it was difficult for me in the start. However, I believed that I had to step up somewhere and I did. I will tell you something about Aditi Chauhan. She is a very good person. She is not what people tell about her. She hasn’t got that attitude. Once it is a team, it is a team. No matter how big of a star she is, if she fits in the team, she fits in and if she doesn’t, she will have to be on the bench. This time, she was in my first eleven and she served the team’s purpose. I do not know about the next camp. She might not be there. She might not feature in the first eleven. For me all the players are equal. Whether it may be— Aditi or Bala or any younger player.  I believe in youngsters and I am trying to change a lot of seniors. Senior players need to work hard to be where they are, to keep their position in the team. They will have to maintain their level at the top. However, with the youngsters and the seniors are at the same level, I believe that I will prefer youngsters. I believe that the youngsters can do a lot of changes for the national team and the team that I am holding, the youngsters are really working hard. The youngsters have a lot of dreams and are willing to do something different. Once the senior players get their job, they think that their life is settled. I want themselves to push for their seats also and I want to shuffle those players as well. I have gone through this team. I have seen that what are the best in our team and what are the weaknesses in our team. We are planning for a four-nation tournament, we have plans for the Olympic qualifiers, and we have plans for the SAFF. In this year, we have a lot of tournaments lined up. For me, the best part is that I have been given a free hand and I am really glad to be honoured with such an opportunity. Even if I do not like a player but she is good enough for the team, I will definitely take her. For me, I do not have any personal relationships with anyone. It is all for the team and if the team fires, I am happy. I believe that a lot of things are finally falling in place. For me, the participation in the COTIF was like a piece of cake. The girls learnt a lot from this and I learnt myself a lot more than I have learnt in my entire career.


What is your take on the youth developments and grassroots foundation and if AIFF is supporting you? Atulya from Pune asks...

I believe that it should come from the state. The federation cannot do much about this. It must be an initiative from the state. As Federation is already looking into the Baby League, I can see a lot of things happening. GABC is doing a lot; FC Goa is also doing a lot. Dempo, SEBA, Churchill is doing a lot. Name any clubs and they are doing grassroots. I believe that we have 20-25 coaches, who are working from grassroots. In Goa, there are so many centres working and I believe that all of them should come under one roof. That will make us do better than what we are doing now. Everybody is doing in their own special way, they have their own style of doing. Hopefully, things will start falling in place sooner than we expect.


Do you think that moving out of India will actually help the team and individuals to do better? Bandana from Bihar asks...

It is not actually going abroad which matters but playing with the good teams matter. Going abroad and playing teams which are lower than that will not help. It is pointless. I believe that going there and playing competitive matches will help them. I also believe that more matches will help to improve their level in terms of the sport.


We believe that you aren’t just the coach. You take part in multiple other activities for the team. Could you please simplify that for us?

Whenever we are planning a tournament or competition, it is like what I want. I need to suggest things and I need to ask for things. We have a good understanding of the Federation. Especially the likes of Savio Madeira, who is the Technical Director of the Indian team, has been a massive help. Whenever we suggest him something, he tries to get it done. Whatever is in their hands, they are doing this. Whatever, I have asked for; I have received this from them. The infrastructure has also changed for the good. Girls are travelling by flight these days. I must say that whatever I have asked for, they have granted me this. The girls are getting the state-of-the-art facilities to hone themselves. I must also say that things are looking better as there is money into the sport and there are several tournaments lined up for the year.

If there is a biography coming out, what do you think that you will name it?

(Chuckles) I would name it ‘Myself’. I think that I can rate myself the best. I will love to do this. More than anyone else doing this, I would love to rate myself.


Talking about you, who would you rather known for, as a player or the coach? Joel from Thane asks...

I would love to be remembered as a coach and a mentor. As a player, I have played for my state for more than 10 years. I have played for the country for three to four years. I then took up my studies; I did my licensing and finally plunged into my coaching life. I would be loved to remember as a coach more than a player.


Recently, there were rumours about Bembem coming into coaching. What’s your word on it? Hemant from Imphal asks...

I respect Bembem a lot. She is one of the best players that we have produced in India. If she is coming into coaching, I would really appreciate that. Such an experienced player getting into this will be a massive plus. We can learn a lot from her experience. However, now she is the assistant coach of the U-16 team. With her introduction, it is an added advantage that other players can also pick up coaching post their playing career.


Who do you seek your motivation from or may gossip around with? Sabari from Team Jersey asks...

Definitely, a player can help me. If I am going through a lot of difficulties, a player can help me the most, more than anyone else. Sometimes, the ex-players do not know what team I am coaching.  They will just come up and help me through my blocks. And no gossips (laughs).


In a recent interview with Jersey, we had a tete-a-tete with Brendan Rogers. He told us that every coach will deny this but every one of them has a favourite. Who is yours?

Whatever, he said is right. However, I do not want to name any specific girl. I always see players equally and that is what helps me to build this team. I do have my favourites too, but not playing wise. She is not even in the playing eleven. She is in the Reserves eleven.


How is your relationship with Stephen Constantine?

He was here with us when Sajid Dar was present. He was very humble, and a true gentleman. He took multiple sessions where he aimed at increasing the fitness of the coaches. I was present in almost all the sessions of his. Personally, I wanted to go and see the men’s team. I wanted to know that how do they coach and how is their surrounding and atmosphere in the camp. I wanted to see that for the men’s team. When I wrote a mail to him, his answer was a yes. You can imagine that if a national team coach hasn’t got a problem with the women’s team coach coming and seeing his team playing, how great that is. I cannot explain about him in words.


What do you think are the factors which are helping our girls in their performance and the overall ranking? Ben from Team Jersey asks...

Ranking is in our hands I believe. We need to play against those teams where our rankings can just jump up. The lack of matches is what is impacting the ranking. About performance, get more matches and the playing would improve. Get more competitions and the paying style will improve.


Who is your favourite international footballer, and coach?

My favourite women footballer is Marta Vieira da Silva from Brazil. She is phenomenal with her skills. She is still there toiling hard and doing as much as possible. One of my favourite coaches is Holly Hope, not one of the recognized coaches but she is quite a force in Nigeria. I have met her personally and I follow her a lot. However, if you are talking about some well recognised, it will be Vera Pauw from the Netherlands. She was with the national team of the Netherlands and now she is an instructor. I have been through her biographies. She has one of the strongest personalities in football. In India, I do respect all the coaches and they are indeed massive inspirations for us. Mostly it is male coaches, but in female coaches, there are also some who deserves a special mention. They are all my coaches. We call them up and ask that what can be done in certain situations. If we ask for any assistance, they try their best to do them.

Who's doing a better for Indian National Women's team?
Sajid Dar
Maymol Rocky


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