The joy in her voice is there for all to experience when the 25-year-old speaks about her passion becoming her profession. Football has been such a strong influence on her life that it admittedly made her more social than before. What’s more! Durva Vahia, who coaches younger players when not guarding the Maharashtra goal, is an inspiration for sportswomen.
An Asian Football Confederation-licensed coach and Mumbai City FC Grassroots Development Officer, Durva expresses a pretty simple and straight philosophy. Do your best and fight for what you believe in; people around you will start believing that they too can make a difference, she says, flashing a satisfied smile.
“I find that positive reinforcement is the best tool for performance enhancement not just on but also off the field. You just have to give people the courage to do what they really want to create great results,” she says. “Follow your passion, everything else will fall into place if you have the courage to start.”
Indeed, a wise head sits on those young shoulders as she charts her path and creates roadmaps for several others. That comes through when you watch her use different approaches to coaching varied sets of youngsters. “Some are playing competitive football and others are just being introduced to the sport. Each helps me develop into an adaptable and efficient coach,” she says.
An education through sport
Durva’s tryst with football was unintentional. “When I was around 11-years-old, my friends joined football and I just tagged along,” she recalls, starting at St. Anne’s High School. Her friends lost interest but she fell in love with the sport, deeply enough to take to coaching consciously. Indeed, there was nothing unintentional about the start of her journey as a coach.
An internship with Manchester United Soccer Schools was an eye-opener, where she learnt and flourished at the same time. She claimed the overall Star Player award for Modules 4 and 5 and quickly gained the AIFF D and the AFC C licenses. It was not just coaching knowledge that she acquired but also kept her focus on her education during these years.
Creating a culture of football
“As coach, all I expect from my players is commitment. They must be dedicated to training and learning. It’s my job to create a training programme to optimise their performance and to prepare them for the game,” she says, after completing her training sessions to share her insights. “My own game has evolved after I started coaching. It gives me a sense of maturity on the field.”
Durva is keen to play a role in the development of football as an option for sportswomen. “We need to start training kids between the ages of six and eight. The involvement of young professionals as well as parents will create a culture of football for the kids so that the learning environment is warm, welcoming and positive,” she says.
Worth the effort
Left to herself she would ensure regular monitoring of players at the district, State and National levels. “There are very few competitive games that they play each year. They compete in tournaments and there is no training after that,” she says, making her voice heard in the right corridors.
Of course, Durva is proving to herself that it has been worth spending time and money in pursuing football as a career. She aspires to play for the country and also coach the national side. But while she sweats it out to put things in place for the beautiful game in the country, she ensures that she remains an epitome of determination and dedication.