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Familiar Faces: Ashley Westwood Hopes 'Balance of Youth and Experience' Can Help RoundGlass Punjab FC to I-League Title

RoundGlass Punjab FC head coach Ashley Westwood

RoundGlass Punjab FC head coach Ashley Westwood

Ashley Westwood hopes that RoundGlass Punjab will be involved in the I-League title chase after an eye-catching recruitment drive in the off-season.

Ashley Westwood is back in Indian football and this time he will be at the helm of affairs as head coach of I-League side RoundGlass Punjab FC.

Having already led Bengaluru FC to two I-League titles and a Federation Cup and served Indian Super League side ATK’s director of football, the Englishman has brought along a few familiar faces from his previous time to his new challenge.

At a virtual press conference, when asked about why he chose to return, Ashley Westwood said that his and Punjab FC’s vision lined up.

“The Club has been thought about and built for the right reasons. Our founder Sunny (Gurpreet) Singh has a keen interest in sports and wants to create opportunities for the children and youth of Punjab, where he hails from, to play sports,” Westwood said.

“We want to create a healthy, honest, and hard-working team and aim to inspire young people with our performances and style of play, in line with Sunny’s vision, which includes providing a genuine platform that the children and youth of Punjab look up to, are inspired by, and that helps nurture their dreams of becoming sportspersons,” he added.

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As the club gears up for the upcoming 2021-22 I-League season, which is set to kick off on December 26, RoundGlass Punjab FC’s pre-season training began in October and the team has been in Kolkata since, with the players and support staff being housed in a bio-secure environment.

RoundGlass Punjab FC head coach Ashley Westwood

“Pre-season has been good. It’s a new team and the more time we spend with each other, the better it is. Being in this environment, which means living and working together day in and day out helps bring the team together and allows us to find out more about one another and understand the character of each member of the team, which is part of our decision-making process. Another benefit of being together is that we can focus on football, as there are no distractions, and we can control the environment. We are trying to keep things challenging for the players and, at the same time, ensure that it is not monotonous,” Westwood said.

RoundGlass Punjab FC had an impressive I-League debut under new ownership last season, finishing 4th, and made a strong statement of intent in the summer transfer window as well.

Westwood will have some familiar faces – C.K. Vineeth, Robin Singh, Rino Anto and Lalchhuanmawia – with him at Punjab FC.

“The players we have signed give us balance and have been brought on board for not only their abilities but also their professionalism and experience. I know the players I’ve worked with earlier will do things the right way and be role models for not only the younger players at the club but also those at our academy and our fans. We wanted a balance of youth and experience in the squad so we can challenge for the I-League,” Westwood said.

RoundGlass Punjab FC begin their I-League campaign against Rajasthan United FC at 7.30 pm at the Kalyani Stadium in West Bengal on December 26.

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first published:December 09, 2021, 07:00 IST