Taff Rahman is the only Bangladeshi to hold a UEFA ‘A’ License. Starting off as a professional footballer and having played for clubs like Luton Town, QPR and Arsenal, Taff had his priorities straight. However, persistent injuries cut his playing career short of its potential but that didn’t stop Taff from reaching his goals. Proving the naysayers wrong, Taff went on to work in the Arsenal Academy and currently is an Academy Coach for Tottenham Hotspur. Taff has achieved a lot more but it’s only been in the last few years that he has been turning heads around the world with his diligent approach and passion for the game. We had the opportunity to have a quick chat with Taff and get the lowdown.
Plaantik: Thank you for taking some time of your busy schedule to do this. Let’s cut to the chase. When was the last time you visited country and what memories of football do you have while you were there? Do you miss Bangladesh?
Taff: No problem! I visited Bangladesh back in 2013. Without a doubt, I miss Bangladesh. I simply miss traveling across the country through the vibrant villages and seeing the local kids having a kick-about on the dry paddy fields.
Plaantik: Tell us a bit about your childhood. What are your earliest memories of being involved with football?
Taff: My football journey started when I was around 7 years old. Back in my time, it was the just about the only thing to do on break times in primary school. I just loved the freedom to run around. I loved scoring goals and acting out like I was Eric Cantona & Ryan Giggs, the heroes back then. I played a lot of other sport too like cricket and basketball. However, I made sure I continued to play football. I started taking football seriously when people started making comparisons between me and my brother. I loved the competition from a young age and wanted to be better than him. So I trained and practiced hard. I later went on to represent my school, district and country. While professional clubs wanted to sign me.
Plaantik: You were scouted by Arsenal when you were only 11. How did that come about?
Taff: As a young boy getting into the world of football, I initially started out at Luton Town FC. After that it was Queens Park Rangers for a while. Soon after, Arsenal scouted me. It was more of a journey rather than starting out straight at Arsenal from day one.
Plaantik: Did you have a chance to train with the first team?
Taff: Unfortunately, no. Back in those days, and even now, chances were very limited. We are talking about the time when Arsenal was dominated by the French World Cup and European cup winner players. A time when the club had a lot of world class players all around. Playing in the same club as some of these legends is an honour in itself, but no such opportunities came where I could train with the first team.
Plaantik: Did Bangladesh Football Federation ever get in touch with you?
Taff: No, I did not get in touch with the Bangladesh Football Federation. At one stage, I was aware that they heard of me and people from the United Kingdom were in contact with them on my behalf. But eventually nothing really developed.
Plaantik: Your playing career was cut short by injuries. When did you realize it was time to hang up your boots and focus on something else?
Taff: Honestly speaking, I never excepted to hang up the boots and never completely will, at least I don’t think so. Generally I am an exceptionally fit person. So while I will never stop playing, I must admit that injuries derailed my career from where it was heading towards. When I was 18, it was part of the program to get coaching badges. So, as a pre-requisite of being a young player back then, even though I was 18, I started taking up coach badges. It was around the age of 23 when I started taking them a lot more seriously and decided to incorporate it to my skill set.
Plaantik: And that brings us to your current role. You are a UEFA A licensed coach. Tell us about the curriculum. What are the competencies required to receive the badge?
Taff: The UEFA A licence is the highest coaching qualification in football. It covers a wide range of tactical aspects that one has to be able to understand, implement with their team and also use the tactic to counteract against the opposition tactics. I am proud to say that I am the only Bangladeshi to have achieved the English FA A License.
Plaantik: You’re an Academy coach at previously Arsenal and now at Spurs. What are some of the challenges you face while coaching the kids?
Taff: The biggest challenge is coming into terms with the fact that how good they actually are! You have to be a coach at the top of your game – disciplined and thinking strategically. It’s the detail of the game that you have to coach that can not be noticed by the eyes of a novice. You have to continuously come up with new ideas to challenge the players and get the best out of them. And down the line that is how you learn as a coach and keep yourself motivated to prove your worth.
Plaantik: What is your take on the prospects of Asian footballers in the Premier League?
Taff: To be brutally honest, it can be difficult for Asian players to break through in the Premier League. The Premier League is the best of the best. It can be very demanding physically and in just everything else that comes with it, really. Currently we don’t have enough players competing at the top to actually achieve something or someone who is going to be challenging the very bests in the industry. We need more Asians to follow the game and pursue it as a profession, rather than simply following it as just a hobby in order to make it to the big leagues.
Plaantik: If you could change three things to the entire football scene in Bangladesh, what would you change?
Taff: That’s a hard one but if I had to pick just three, I would:
1.Develop the governance of the game.
2. Create a strong and structured national premier league with additional divisions
3. Grass roots program with mandatory football education!
Plaantik: There’s a school of thought that national teams should always have managers from their own country. When can we expect to see you in the dugout at the Bangabandhu National Stadium?
Taff: For most players and coaches in the industry, it is always an ambition to represent their country in the highest competitions. For myself, I hope it is one day not too far in the future. It would be an honour to be in the management side of the national team.
Plaantik: We can’t let one of our own leave without talking about cricket! Where were you when Rubel Hossain sent Jimmy Anderson’s bails flying in the World Cup?
Taff: Interesting question because it takes me back to think that I was round a friend’s house for that game, cheering the team on. I am just very glad to see Bangladesh cricket team doing so well. Over the last 12 years the team has really established a name. Very proud of the team!
Plaantik: Thanks again for your time, Taff! It has been a pleasure.
Taff: Never a problem. Cheers!
You can follow Taff Rahman by visiting his following links:
(This interview was conducted by Plaantik’s Co-Founder Tawsif Akkas for Plaantik via electronic media)
Powered by Facebook Comments