Author Topic: Mohammed al Balushi, 33, signed on 2 coach a Brazilian club  (Read 4263 times)

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Mohammed al Balushi, 33, signed on 2 coach a Brazilian club
« on: April 22, 2009, 07:12:16 PM »

Mohammed al Balushi, 33, signed on 2 coach a Brazilian club

The name Espirito Santo Futebol Clube from the southeastern Braz-ilian state of Espirito Santo will hardly ring a bell here in the sultanate.

Thousands of kilometres away from Omani shores, this state has some of the best beaches in the Southern Hemisphere and is a well known tourist attraction in Latin America.

More importantly, it also has an Oman connection now.

Few people would expect an Omani football coach, hailing from the small town of Musannah, to be training a football club in Brazil.

Yes, you read this right - an Omani coach working wonders in Brazilian club football.

Mohammed al Balushi, 33, did the sultanate proud earlier this year in January when he became the first Omani to be signed on to coach a club there.

Mohammed, who has worked in Oman as an interpreter and translator with former Oman coaches, Uruguayan Julio Cesar Ribas and Argentine Gabriel Calderon, not only trained Espirito Santo, but also set a record when he steered the club into the first division league at the state championship for the first time in 50 years.

In an exclusive interview with TheWeek during his recent visit to the sultanate, Mohammed spoke about his xciting journey from Musannah to Espirito Santo. “Since childhood, I have dreamt of football and only football.

It is my first and last love,” he said, recollecting his student days in 1999, when he tried his luck with English clubs like Cheltenham and Oxford United.

Unsuccessful in making any headway as a player, Mohammed completed his studies and then moved to Spain to learn Spanish. It was during this time (2003-08) that he managed to do several short coaching courses affiliated to the Spanish Football Association.

His interest in football has turned him into a prolific writer in Arabic, having so far penned five books. He was also instrumental in launching  Arabic sports magazine Nojoom in Oman.

Soon enough his job as a journalist took him to Doha where he served as the editor of the international section of a sports magazine for some time. During this period, Mohammed managed to develop contacts at some of the best Spanish clubs – something that would help him later.

Mohammed next ventured into the electronic media and worked as a football analyst at Fox Sports for some time before joining the Oman Football Association (OFA) in 2008 as international relations and media manager.

Shortly thereafter came stints as translator and interpreter of Ribas and Calderon respectively. But an ambitious Mohammed had always dreamt of becoming a trainer and in September 2008, armed with Spanish language skills and a few coaching certificates, he flew to Brazil to pursue his lifelong dream.

Through hard work, commitment and after studying Portuguese daily for four hours, he got the ‘A’ licence from the Brazilian Coaches Associ-ation. He also cleared the course for becoming a professional coach.

Mohammed got his first breakthrough in Brazilian football when he was made the ambassador of the Brazilian Football Academy (BFA) to Africa and the Middle East for a period of five years.

And during his many visits to the Brazil Football Association, his friend Luis Antonio Zaluar, an employee of the association, tipped him off that a club from Espirito Santo was looking for a coach.

After extensive negotiations with Bruno Azevedo, the club’s vice-chairman, Mohammed was finally offered a chance to coach the side for six months.

The club had to finish among the top two among a group of three in the second division to gain a place in the first division of the regional event, managed by the Capixaba Football Federation. Besides Espirito Santo, the other two teams were Caxias and Vitoria FC.

Mohammed failed to get a good start as his club lost to Vitoria 0-3, but under his guidance they bounced back to beat Caxias 2-1. Espirito Santo then lost to Vitoria 1-2 again but then went on to beat Caxias 3-0 in a crucial encounter to seal a berth in the first division for the first time in its 50-year history.

“It was a great moment with the local radio and newspapers playing it up there,” recollected Mohammed. “The host of the Anchieta City mor-ning radio show told its listeners, ‘Wake up! A dream has come true. Espirito Santo has qualified to the first division for the first time in 50 years’.”

Mohammed said that he employed mind games and adopted a mix of Brazilian attack, Italian defence and German discipline to psyche out the opposing teams. Mohammed’s initial six-month contract runs out in June, but he is not too worried.

After the Brazilian media played up his success story, he now has a number of offers coming his way. Mohammed, who by now speaks five languages – Arabic, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Maltese – is currently negotiating with a Portuguese third division club for a new contract after his existing one runs out.

For a person, who grew up playing on the hard football grounds of Musannah, the roller-coaster journey has been full of excitement even as he continues his quest to gain more international experience. Mohammed admitted that though he was working with a small club in Brazil, the very fact that an Omani is coaching there is an achievement in itself.

“It is a great feeling to read in Brazilian newspapers that an Omani is coaching a Brazilian club. I would like to be remembered as a successful trainer and this is my first step towards that goal.”