After the players signed access to a former psychologist, the U-17 women’s team was now left without support

The Indian Express can reveal that ahead of the tournament, which began on October 11, the team’s players unanimously decided they didn’t want this particular mental conditioning coach and wrote a letter to the AIFF stating that Same explained. Now, after the 8-0 defeat at the start, the young players have no one to turn to – neither a fitness coach nor a sports psychologist in the squad.

Since all players had signed the letter that was sent out during training in Bhubaneswar in mid-July, the AIFF had to give in. With all the pressure on them as hosts and being in one of the toughest groups of the tournament alongside the USA with Morocco and Brazil, it’s essential to have mental training sessions.

A player who signed the letter told this paper, on condition of anonymity, that the sessions were eating away at their rest time.
β€œThe sessions were very long and usually took place when it was time to rest. We’ve been doing high-intensity training every day since preparing for the World Cup and really needed to recover for the next day. While the sessions initially helped us, later it became too tiring. The players thought it was a waste of time and that’s why we wrote the letter,” the player said.

Sources say the federation didn’t want to hire a new mental coach so close to the mega-event.

Top teams focus on mental conditioning

Teams worldwide, especially women’s teams, have put a huge focus on mental conditioning lately. Most top nations have a sports psychologist on their team at all times.

Kenio Gonzalo, coach of Spain’s holders of the U-17 World Cup, explained at a recent press conference how much his team is prioritizing mental health.

β€œThe Spanish Football Federation has made many resources available to us and one of them is the Psychology and Mentoring department. They are responsible for managing our groups when we are traveling and when we are in training camps in Spain. They offer massive support to these young players. When we travel, a member of the team always travels with us. Psychologists, mentors, talk to our players every day. It has helped our players grow up a lot. The result of that is how the players prioritize the group over themselves,” he said.

The Indian team had a baptism of fire in their opening game against the USA. They seemed tactically and physically lost against an offensive masterclass from the USA. After the game, some players collapsed to the ground in despair. Coach Dennerby tried to distract from the defeat with intensive training the next day.

Shaji Prabhakaran, who was recently appointed AIFF General Secretary, told The Indian Express that coach Thomas Dennerby and his team are also taking care of the mental aspect.

“When I asked why the psychologist’s services had been discontinued, I was told that just before the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, all the players had written to the association that they did not want the previous psychologist to work with the team in is connected. There is currently no psychologist on the team, but the head coach and his staff ensure that every aspect is given the attention it deserves,” he said.

On Friday they meet Morocco, who lost 1-0 to Brazil in their opening game. If India want to survive in the tournament it is important that they take at least one point from the game. It won’t be easy considering that Morocco is very strong defensively and India is very weak offensively.

It’s also the only game they’ve managed to score points in, considering their next game is against Brazil.

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