Born: 2 April 1949
Career as a player: 1961 -1963: Palmeiras (futsal). 1964-1966: Paimeiras. 1970-1971: Sao Caetano. 1972-1975: Universidade de Santo Andre.
Career as a coach: 1974-1975: Comercial. 1975-1976: Mackenzie University. 1977-1978: Marilia AC. 1979-1982: Al Khor (Qatar). 1982-1983: Al Wehda (Bahrain). 1983-1985: Al Manama Club (Bahrain). 1985-1986: Al Shabab (UAE). 1986-1988: Assistant coach of Brazilian national team. 1989-1990: T. K. Club (Cameroon). 1990: Palmeiras. 1991-1992: Nagoya Grampus Eight (Japan). 1993-1994: Umao de Mogi 1994-1995: Santos. 1995-2002: CONCACAF technical director. 2002-2004: Technical director of South African national team. 2005-2006: Technical manager of Oman national youth team. Since May 2007: Myanmar.
Miscellaneous: Falopa is a qualified sports instructor and he has visited more than 100 countries in various capacities, primarily as a FIFA instructor
“There are great footballers everywhere”
Brazilian Marcos Falopa, 59, is a footballing nomad. The FIFA instructor, who has already visited more than 100 countries, has
been Myanmar coach since May 2007.
FM: What was the motivation behind your decision to become coach of Myanmar back in May 2007?
Marcos Falopa: The Asian Football Confederation approached me last year and asked whether I would be interested in becoming the coach of Myanmar. I said
yes because the President of the Myanmar Football Federation, Zaw Zaw, is a passionate football fan and he encouraged me to take the job. It is a great challenge for me to try and take Myanmar back to the heights that they reached in the early 1960s, when they were one of the best teams in south-east: Asia.
How would you sum up the work you have done so far in Myanmar?
Falopa: When I first took over, the team had shortcomings in their technique, physique and mental approach. There were no players playing abroad, so they had precious little international experience. That had obviously had an effect on the game there. I was surprised to meet players who had nicknames such as Cafu, Kaka, Zidane and Ronaldo, but on the other hand, there are also players who simply use their real names. Since I’ve been there, a few players, such as So Myat, Tun Tun Win, So Thiha Aung and Khim Maung, have left to play outside of their home country.
What was your job like when you arrived in Myanmar?
Falopa: I started by building a team of talented young players and then otganised matches against local clubs. Slowly but surely, my team began to take shape. Through hard work and regular training sessions, the players have made enormous progress in just 18 months, particularly in
terms of technique and tactics. We took part in two international tournaments last year, in Malaysia and Thailand, and we reached the final both times, playing the host team on both occasions. Earlier this year, Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar and left death and destruction in its wake and football did not escape its wrath either. After that, we also reached the semi-finals of both the Asian Challenge Cup in India and the Independence Cup in Indonesia, thereby underlining the progress we have made.
How would you describe football in Myanmar to someone unfamiliar with it?
Falopa: As soon as I started work in Myanmar, I immediately saw that the people there love their football. It
was the monsoon season, it was always mining, mostly heavily, the streets were flooded but kids were still playing football. Children in Myanmar are no different to youngsters back home in Brazil in the sense that they love to play football. They don’t care about the weather, the pitch, or about what kind of ball they have. I also noticed straight away that there are some very talented kids in Myanmar. That is mainly thanks to chinlone, a traditional game played in Myanmar with a small bail. Players need good technique and a good feel for the ball, as well as agility and flexibility. The people in Myanmar definitely have a talent for football, and in my opinion, they can make rapid progress if they train more regularly and improve their understanding of tactics. The passion for football in Myanmar is reflected by the fact that there arc many sports newspapers, mostly concentrating on football.
How is football structured in Myanmar?
Falopa: There are 14 clubs in the top flight, including clubs called Police, Kan Baw Za, Commerce, Army, Forest and Construction. The players are semi-pros and only a few clubs have sponsors. I think that Myanmar will soon have a professional league. Youth development work is going from strength to strength, and a lot of progress is being made in women’s football too. The two biggest stadiums are in Yangon – the Thuwanna Stadium with a capacity of 25,000 and the Aung San Stadium, which holds 20,000.
What are your objectives as coach of Myanmar?
Falopa: The national team, as well as Myanmar football in general, needs to improve. Myanmar has to get back towards the upper reaches of Asian football. It that
is to happen, the national ream will have to play in more and more international tournaments in order to gain experience. I am confident that we will reach the targets we have set ourselves because all of the players are motivated, talented and eager to learn.
Myanmar is said to be a politically unstable and rather unsafe country … how does that affect your work?
Falopa: As a football coach, 1 only concentrate on football and I try to block out political and religious goings-on. 1 do, however, notice if one of my players has a problem during training or a match that isn’t directly linked to football. That has a negative effect on my work and particularly on the performances of my team. My job is to make Myanmar’s national team better. That is the only objective of my work here, and that is what I am fully concentrated on.
You have been a FIFA instructor for many years, and you have
worked in many countries in a number of different positions. What does football mean to you?
Falopa: I have taught players and coaches in more than 100 countries. 1 owe football such a lot. I will never forget the day back in 1979 when Joseph S. Blatter gave me a book about how to teach football. At the time, I was working as a coach in Qatar and the man who went on to become FIFA President was the technical director of world football’s governing body. Football has always dominated my life, even when I was a very young boy. I grew up in Sao Paulo, just a stone’s throw away from 11 football pitches. I used to play barefoot on the grass. After that I played futsal before moving on to football. I was a professional in Botafogo’s B team in Rio de Janeiro before moving to Sao Caetano in the first division. After hanging up my boots, I enrolled at a sports university and trained to become a coach.
You haven’t exactly had a glittering career in the world of professional football, you’ve been more interested in the development side of the game …
Falopa: I have coached at a few professional cubs, but my successes have all come at small clubs and in development work. I enjoy teaching players and coaches, telling them the secrets of football, educating them about technique and tactics, and I am always delighted when I see them make progress.
You have worked in many countries in a variety of roles. Which memory stands out for you?
Falopa: That would be from the 1980s, when Professor Julio Mazzei named me as the assistant coach of the Brazilian national team. 1 was fortunate enough to work with many stars there. It was an unforgettable time, simply wonderful. It was also fantastic to work with extraordinary talents such as Cesar Sampaio, Nelsinho, Cezar and Fabio Luciano, who were all at the beginning of their careers.
Which country has the most talented footballers?
Falopa: There are so many great players in South America, not just in Brazil but also in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia. Africa also has many extraordinary players in Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Cote d’lvoire, Morocco, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa and Egypt, for example. Back in 1989, when I was coaching at a club in Cameroon, I couldn’t believe how many talented young boys there were. There is also a lot of talent in the CONCACAF region as well as in Asia. Many have the potential to become stars, but not all of them receive the right training or have the mental capacity to rise to the top.
What are your plans for your future in football?
Falopa: I want to have a successful ASEAN Football Championship campaign with Myanmar in December 2008 and I will also continue to work in football development somewhere around the world. Football means so much to me. This sport is my passion, my whole life revolves around football. It fosters peace and brings people from different walks of life together, and it can even stop wars. Santos and the legendary Pele once played a match in Uganda, and the country’s dictator, Idi Amin, ordered a ceasefire to mark the occasion.
The website of Myanmar Football Federation