ISL: East Bengal hire first female psychologist as part of Fowler’s staff

Nicola McCalliog, ISL debutants East Bengal’s new psychologist, intends to use military techniques to prepare the squad for ISL 2020-21.

By Utathya Nag ·

Heading into their maiden Indian Super League (ISL) season, East Bengal have roped in seasoned forensic psychologist Nicola McCalliog to help the squad stay mentally fit over the course of what promises to be a gruelling campaign.

UK-based McCalliog comes with over 15 years of experience in her field, having worked both for the government and in top-level sports. She is the first female psychologist for an Indian football team.

She is currently a consultant for several Premier League clubs and also works with the Fowler Education and Football Academy – a programme in Merseyside run by former Liverpool icon and serving East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler.

“I am here to support the manager and the staff to get the best out of the players on and off the pitch. I need to understand their story,” McCalliog explained her role with East Bengal.

“I am there to listen, advise and provide solutions to the players so they can have absolute focus in training and games. It is all about creating a positive and winning mentality individually and collectively as a team,” she added.

McCalliog has already started working with the East Bengal players via weekly online calls but is expected to join up with the squad in person if the team reaches the ISL playoffs.

“I see the hunger to win in the eyes of the players and feel an unbreakable team spirit building. It’s all about making history and winning the ISL with the great club that is East Bengal for the fans, club, players, team and the community,” she said.

She will be working with the players using military techniques focusing on mental preparation, breathing, visualisation and resilience. A trained hostage negotiator and advisor, she also intends to adapt her know-how to benefit the squad.

“I have been privileged to work in some great teams in my career so far and I sense that the manager and our team is creating something special at East Bengal. I am very happy to be a part of the East Bengal team and cannot wait to come to India,” she said.

McCalliog will be the eighth-member of Robbie Fowler’s East Bengal support staff, which also includes set-piece coach Terence McPhillips – a first in the history of any Indian club.

East Bengal start their ISL 2020-21 season on November 27 with a crunch tie against rivals ATK Mohun Bagan and McCalliog’s inputs may prove invaluable to prepare the team for the high-voltage opener.