Thu, 17 Nov 2022 04:44 PM IST | Source: PTI
India is very much being represented at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Not on the field, but in certain activities surrounding it.
In Vinay Menan, the Belgium team for the upcoming showpiece will have a Keralite among its backroom staff. The wellness coach of the Belgian team will be looking into various aspects like the physical and mental well-being of the players.
"I feel proud to have gotten this opportunity to be with the Belgian national team in the World Cup," said Menon. "It makes me really happy that I can represent India and make my country proud in my own way."
As a wellness coach of the team, Vinay is responsible for mental strategy and recovering of the body and the mind which help players perform at the optimal level.
The 48-year-old has previously also worked with Chelsea FC, one of the top clubs in Europe; he has also played an important role in fine-tuning the Chelsea squads that won the UEFA Champions League in 2011-12 and 2020-21 seasons.
Vinay is now looking for support from all quarters for his side to do well in the World Cup.
"India might not have a team yet in the World Cup, but I hope that all Indians who are travelling to Qatar for the matches will come and support Belgium," he said.
Vinay started his journey in the Cherai village near Ernakulam, Kerala, before completing his MPhil in physical education from the Pondicherry University. He further went on to study yoga science at the Kaivalydhan Institute in Pune, before moving to Dubai as an instructor in a five-star resort.
The young instructor had his first brush with the beautiful game, when he joined as the personal coach of then Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic, before joining the club altogether.
Still a part of Chelsea, he hopes to one day work in a similar capacity with the Indian football team.
"If Belgium, with a population of 11 million, can make it to the World Cup, there's no reason why India with a population of 1.3 billion, can't," he said.
"I believe that India can play the World Cup by 2030, and if and when that happens, I would very much like to lend my expertise to the national team."
Shaji Prabhakaran, All India Football Federation (AIFF) secretary-general said, "For India, it's a very proud moment; an Indian getting into the Belgium national team, as a wellness coach.
"This is a not a small responsibility Vinay has undertaken. Being the wellness coach means, he's a mental strategist of the team. And therefore, he controls the mind of the players that helps to measure the performance and puts the goals in front of the players."