JUDAN ALI, the Manager and Head Coach for the Indonesian National Army Football Team, is lending his extensive footballing knowledge to help fire a group of 18 year olds to greater success.
In his earlier days Ali was on the books of Arsenal and played alongside the likes of Gunners legends Ray Parlour and Paul Merson. Despite not being selected to play first team football, the determined youngster spent time in Spain with Murcia. Most notably this included a stint at the fabled La Masia Academy with Barcelona after he was talent-spotted by the late, great Johan Cruyff – the man Ali cites as the greatest influence on his football career.
Speaking at Club Calcutta, Ali said he is taking a short developmental break from managing his football academies and schools in Asia as well as his role as the Indonesian National football team manager to return to the UK to commence his FIFA, UEFA and youth courses.
Recently Ali sat down with former Swindon Town star and current Leyton Orient Managing Director of football Martin Ling. The former Os’ player and manager has welcomed Ali to lead and develop the Lings Elite under 18s as Head Coach and also look after the coaching side in general throughout the age groups.
Ali is supported by Ben Muis, who overseas the management of the youth and senior teams as well as providing highly valuable knowledge to Ali of local talent that has been “overlooked“ or released by academies.
Ali spoke about his coaching influences. “Johan Cruyff was my mentor who, while I was playing and coaching the youth teams at Murcia FC took me to Barcelona upon my promise and eagerness to learn under him,” he said. “My stint at La Masia has been the bedrock of my learning.”
Ali, an orphan himself, runs orphanages in Asia and has a passion for taking players from disadvantaged backgrounds and honing them into standout athletes, which he has successfully shown during his time in Asia so far. He is an active anti-racism campaigner and huge advocate of health, discipline and daily routines that enhance the athlete into an “elite” model.
At Lings Elite under 18s, Ali is embedding a different approach to youth football. “We are looking to create an environment for progression and opportunity, with great emphasis being placed on physical, technical, social and psychological disciplines.” he explained. “This is a serious chance for some of these players to turn pro, and I want them to turn their mind, body and spirit to focus on becoming an elite player. We are arming them up for what is a huge chance.
“If I had had this opportunity when I was growing up in east London, I would probably have played for England. The players assembled here at the Club Calcutta today are the core and chosen ones, and it’s all in their hands. We have a programme to fast track them all into pro football thanks to Martin Ling and his vision.”
As part of the players development Ali is stressing the importance of food intake, liquid intake, sleeping patterns, and health awareness in his quest to turn the squad into the most active under 18s squad in the wider area.
“We are looking to bring in players for the development programme and moving them on. It’s not just about retaining numbers for a squad,” he explained. “I strongly feel that only those players that are hungry for success and determined to prove to themselves that they have what it takes will stand out. I only work well with footballers who appreciate they have the chance to do something they love for a living.”
Managing Director Abedur Rahman Shimu hosted the team event at Club Calcutta and Loughton Golf Club and confirmed that he is providing ongoing support with kit, footballs and post match meals. He said, “It’s a pleasure being involved with Lings Elite, and I hope we can all grow on this journey together. We want to support local grassroots football and this is a great opportunity to do so.”
Speaking about a lasting legacy at Lings Elite, Ali concluded, “If we can have at least one player break through to the pro ranks while I’m here or after I’ve left… It’ll be a benchmark and send a message to the wider footballing community that players who have fallen by the wayside or not taking the usual academy path still have a lot to offer.
“I cannot commend how much good Martin Ling is doing for English talent and if every Football Club Director in England had this attitude and passion for our football, we would see more English home grown talent break through to first team football at the top. After all, as much as I live and breathe football and wish all involved to have fun, it’s a results business and a ‘numbers game’, so the more talent we can nurture and put back into the system again the more chance for this to happen.”