NEW DELHI: AT an age when most footballers are just about to reach the peak of their powers, 26-year-old Yan Law became the youngest to coach an I-League side when he was named Punjab FC coach for the upcoming I-League season.
He is also the youngest to hold an AFC A licence. The former India U-19 footballer has quite an interesting life story to tell. Belonging to a Chinese immigrant family, his great grandfather was the first to come to the country and settle down in Kolkata. And business and football go hand in hand in the Law household.
“My father is a businessman. But he loves football. He was the reason behind my decision to enter coaching as his passion was contagious,” he told this daily. Yan’s first tryst with coaching was at the age of 18, when he completed the D licence course.
At that point he was still an active player, turning out for George Telegraph in the Calcutta Football League. “The current Indian Football Association president had, at that point in time, asked me to try my luck. Incidentally, both me and my father did the same course together and passed. It was a fantastic experience and the start of this journey.”
His coaching CV includes the likes of the Bengal Santosh Trophy team and the youth coach at Mohammedan Sporting. And Yan has tasted success as well. “My first-ever job was coaching Calcutta United, a fifth division team at that point in time. I was paid `500 for my services and we ended up winning the division. Soon I was roped in as Bengal assistant coach and we ended up winning the Santosh Trophy.”
Now after entering the big league with Punjab, Yan knows it is a major step-up and he has prepared meticulously for the job. And the former AIFF development officer has been helped by Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj. “Ranjit sir has been kind enough to give me a free hand with regards to selecting players. We have roped in quite a few senior players and I have high expectations from the boys. Hopefully we can create history this time around.”
He has already coached the side during their AFC Cup sojourn and knows them pretty well. Young coaches in football have often suffered when thrust into the limelight with player power often usurping that of their own. But Yan has no such worries.
“I have played with most of the seniors during my India age group days while the others know me from my time at AIFF. I don’t think it will be a problem as all of us have the same goals and are working towards achieving them as a team.”
Yan also has completed FA Level I and II courses and has set his sights on completing the Pro licence come the end of the I-League season. Does he miss playing or is he content with the role he has now?
“The truth is I was always more interested in coaching and hence the decision. I ultimately want to return to Kolkata to coach one of the big two. Till then, I want to gather as much experience as possible and ensure success and a steady flow of quality youth products continues.”