Police officer in his younger days, Thomas Dennerby does not yell when players make mistakes

Indian women’s football team head coach Thomas Dennerby does not believe in yelling at his players when they make mistakes and he attributes that trait to his stint as a police officer in Sweden, where he learnt what holds more value in life.

Dennerby, who is guiding the Indian team in the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 to be hosted by the country in February-March, feels that yelling at players does not work all the time.

“If youโ€™re a coach that yells at the players every match at half-time, then over a period of time, the players also get sensitised to that and it stops having the desired effect,” Dennerby said.

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“But if you do it on occasions when it is required, then it hits them when you do it. Do it only if you have a very good reason to be angry, otherwise donโ€™t do it. That’s my opinion,” he said in a release from All India Football Federation (AIFF).

But it is not that he never feels upset or angry at his players.

“I can be angry maybe once or twice in a year. That comes when I see people not trying hard. As long as you try, put in your best effort, and play the game with passion, I never get angry even if you make a mistake.

“When I see someone being lazy, or not following the plan, or not caring for it, that upsets me. But it’s something that also comes with age. My temperament used to go up and down when I was younger, but with age, Iโ€™ve mellowed down a lot,” said the 62-year-old Swede.

Dennerby, who had also coached national teams of Sweden and Nigeria before taking charge of India, played for Stockholm-based first division club Hammarby IF for eight years from 1977. He then played for Sparvagens IF before pursuing a career in coaching.

While playing as a semiprofessional player, he also worked as a police officer simulatneously.

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“I was at the Police Academy back in my younger days…the first seven years when I played football, we were semiprofessionals. We were police officers, fire-fighters, someone would be driving an ambulance, and so on.

“You had to have an education and a job because the money youโ€™d earn from football was not enough. You could live on it, but it was on the edge.

“I used to go around in my patrol car, and that gave me a different perspective in life. It taught me things that are important in life, and things that are not.”

He said taking care of suffering people or sometimes preventing a suicide as part of his job as police officer taught him “to better value the more important things in life”.

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“Sometimes, when I started coaching, I could go patrolling the whole night, maybe solve some really bad family issue. When you see what you see on such nights, you canโ€™t come back (in the morning) and start yelling at people (players) for missing a pass, because you get another feeling of what things are important in life.

I’ve also done my fair share of surveillance, so Iโ€™ve had to deal with some of the worst criminals in Sweden, and that changes your perspective in life. You realise things that are really important, and things that are not.”

The AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022, to be competed among 12 teams in Mumbai and Pune from January 20 to February 4, is a qualifying event for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

India plays its first match against Iran on January 20, followed by games against Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China (January 26). The team is currently training in Kochi.

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