The GFA in the past one year has swung from good times to good times. No matter how much one would wish not to have them, artificially inflicted bad times do surface because people with bad intentions exist on earth and will continue to do so.
From the organization of all the leagues of the Goa Football Association, to the withdrawal of two Goan teams from the I-League, we live in tumultuous times.
The good times have been the near successful completion of all the eight leagues organized by GFA, with the support and cooperation of all concerned. Of course, the bad times were when the unnecessary hitches which occurred despite our best efforts, by means of forced postponements, reluctance to play on certain grounds, which led to delays.
The key highlights of the year are the revival of two prestigious tournaments. The Goa Police Cup, state's oldest football tournament, which was last held in 2010, was been revived after a gap of five years. The Goa Police Sports Club came forward to hold the Cup, which has a history of being one of the oldest football tournaments in India with one of the tallest trophies – a 5 feet 5 inches silverware trophy, donated by Shri Shantilal Gosalia in 1968.
The feather in the cap is undoubtedly the revival of the prestigious Bandodkar Gold Trophy. Amid a huge controversy manufactured to discredit the current GFA Committee, which in all its earnestness and sincerity, had sought to revive the same, there was a baseless rumour circulated and propagated by some that the Trophy was a replica and not the original. To prove these elements wrong, the Trophy was displayed and carried in a motorcade from the Panaji office to the Duler Stadium. The unstinted support of the Bandodkar family, led by the effervescent Sameer Kakodkar, instilled in us the resolve to revive the tournament as an under 21 and suffice to say that with the cooperation of all the clubs, the tournament was revived. The tournament final saw a full house at Duler Stadium on 31st May 2016. Thanks to the Harley Owners Group, the trophy was taken under escort in a motorcade of around 30 Harley Davidson bikes creating a spectacle unseen before, where the same trophy was displayed to all from far and wide.
We remain indebted to Shri Francis D’Souza, Hon. Deputy Chief Minister, for undertaking the work of installing the floodlights at Duler Stadium, at no cost to the GFA. The Goa State Urban Development Authority and the Mapusa Municipality have combined to gift the Mapusa Town and the people of Goa the floodlights which will be a boon to North Goa. I had assured you that the Bandodkar Trophy would be revived and floodlights would be installed I am happy to have kept my word.
I also place on record that my efforts resulted in the award of the tender for the commencement of the construction of the Campal Football Stadium after 12 long years since the original Campal Stadium was demolished. Being built at a cost of around 45 crores, it will be one of the best stadiums in the heart of Panjim and will fulfill the demands of many a football fan of getting a stadium in Tiswadi, in Panaji.
The upcoming year will see the U16 AFC Cup which shall see 16 teams vying for the three coveted spots in the FIFA U17 World Cup to be held next year. The AFC Cup will be held at two venues – the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim and the PJN Stadium in Fatorda from September 15-October 2 and Goa is expected to watch some of the most promising players from countries like Japan, South Korea, Iran, etc.
Performances of Goan Teams:
Goan teams in the I-League - Sporting Clube de Goa and the Salgaocar FC finished 4th and 7th respectively. The Indian Super League saw FC Goa reach the finals and finish runners up.
The emergence of the ISL as a direct competing entity to the I-League has not gone down too well with the traditional clubs who are forced to consider their future. Pune FC, Bharat FC and Royal Wahingdoh chose not to be a part of last season’s I-League while Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa are following suit this year.
As per the new roadmap that seeks to merge both the leagues, the Indian Super League (ISL) would become the premier competition of the country. Apart from the eight ISL franchises, a select few teams would be inculcated in the top division through a bidding process.
Sporting and Salgaocar contested the fact that sporting merit isn’t being considered while only those who fulfill certain financial criterion will be allowed to be a part of the new look ISL.
The I-League – the official League – has received step motherly treatment. Our traditional clubs who have invested crores of rupees over decades are suddenly made to feel unwanted. We know why 11 major I-League clubs have closed down since 2011.
We welcome the promotion of Dempo Sports Club to the I-League. The club emerged champions in the Second Division I-League amidst some stiff competition from teams across India.
Representative Goan teams also had a mixed bag of performances. We competed in six competitions – The Santosh Trophy for senior men, the National Football Championship for senior women, for junior boys and junior girls and for sub-junior boys and sub-junior girls. In the three zonal leagues conducted, Goa emerged triumphant in all three – senior men, senior women and sub-junior boys. In the final round, our best finish was a semifinal finish in senior men and sub-junior boys.
In the Santosh Trophy, while the Senior Goa Team emerged triumphant in the West Zone qualifying league topping the league, the team could not repeat its showing in the Final Leg, bowing out in the semifinals to a 117th minute solitary own goal to the eventual champions Services. The Goa sub-junior team bowed out to West Bengal in the semifinals in the National Football Championship played in Delhi.
The GFA successfully completed the Goa Pro League 2015-16 along with First Division League, the Second Division League and the Third Division League. Requests for postponements from clubs, non-availability of grounds, among other factors contributed to some delays in finishing tournaments by the proposed time. The Age Group Tournaments, which include the Under 14, the Under 16, the Under 18 and the Under 20 Leagues were also conducted and finished with quite a few hurdles.
In all, we organised a total of more than a 1000 competitive official matches. This does not include the International and National Level Tournaments held in Goa - the AIFF Youth Cup 2015, the FAM-FRENZ Asia Champions Trophy 2015, the National Football Championship for Junior Girls, the AIFF U15 I-League among others.
Without the active support and cooperation of the clubs, the owners of the various grounds and the local organisers, there was no way we could have pulled off the Herculean task of organising these tournaments.
68 players from Goa have represented the senior Indian National Team out of about 510 who have been capped since 1948. Fulganco Cardozo became the latest addition and we congratulate him for scoring on his debut against Laos.
Inter village tournaments continue to dominate the disputes redressal scene and engage the time of the administration and the various Judicial bodies. It is never easy to get an immediate decision in case of an inter village dispute. It is my firm opinion that inter village tournaments must have separate disputes redressal forum which could be drawn from the Organisers, Zonal Members of GFA and one from the referees. Though inter village tournament culture is deeply rooted in Goa, we have to devise mechanisms to popularize them, but at the same time solve associated issues.
For the first time ever, we have managed to curb groupism and nepotism among referees. Continuous engagement in in fitness courses and seminars, as well as digitizing operations, have helped streamline the referees department and I would give full credit to the Referees for their support and cooperation.
Some members have also raised issues related to the Constitution amendments. Let all such issues be taken up by a committee so that in 6 months we can convene an EGM to implement the recommendations.
We are pleased to state that this year we organised three competitions for women – The Youth Women’s League for college and school girls, the GFA U18 Knockout Tournament and the Women’s Soccer Festival which saw participations from teams from Tibet and Kutch. Women’s Football remains high priority as a key focus area in the forthcoming season. We shall be reviving our third major tournament after the Bandodkar Trophy and the Goa Police Cup – the Goa Senior Women’s League this year.
The GFA, in the last one year, has continued to be in the forefront as far as coach education programmes have been concerned. We conducted 5 D-License Courses in June, the only time of the year, when the GFA Duler Stadium is available. 137 coaches got the opportunity to climb up the introductory rung of the coaching ladder. Every year, we intend to conduct such courses to ensure we have more and more qualified coaches.
Besides these, in association with the AIFF, we conducted 2 AFC C License Courses and are scheduled to conduct two more this year, one in September and one in October. We also facilitated the AFC Grassroots Course, Pro License Courses and the AFC B License Course.
We are proud to say that we have been associated with Premier Skills which is a partnership between the Premier League and the British Council. The Premier Skills Head Coaches have selected Goan football coaches Sham Gauli, Shekhar Kerkar, Joao Rebello, Ryan Cardoso, Astrid Pereira, Malvita Mascarenhas & Sujita Murgaonkar to be educators and assistants in the delivery of such courses at the Grassroots.
FIFA State Development Programme
The FIFA State Development Programme has been a boon for the GFA.
Under the FIFA State Development Programme, the GFA will be charting out its own Strategic Plan – which will focus on building the brand profile and communication of Goa FA plans and on making the Association financially stable by developing its own sources of income. Part of the plan involves an active outreach to promote women’s football in Goa and increase fan engagement.
A large part of the organisation involves technology in today’s day and age and at the GFA our focus is to digitize information to the maximum cost benefit. We have been engaged towards developing a vibrant website and a mobile app which will be the official channel of communication with all stakeholders, along with our social media channels. I am happy to state that the scores of all official GFA matches in Goa are available on a mobile app called Soccertrac.
We are partnering with various technology companies to introduce our clubs to easier, more convenient ways of training, video analysis, competition management and venue management. This is a long drawn process and involves time and costs and we hope in the next couple of years, we will migrate to a largely paperless operations with your support and cooperation.
While the year before there were accusations by some of the members themselves through a press note about Micky and Mario, this year too saw revival of the same. Ridiculous as it may seem, this year saw no less controversies. There were false planted stories of replacement of the Bandodkar Trophy, there were planted stories about valuation of the trophy and many others. But the mother of all false stories was a story that I had withdrawn FD's of 48 lakhs.
The said FD of Rs 48,76,017, was encashed on 28th April 2014 when I was not the President. The present Committee in the GFA took over in July 2014 and the allegation that fixed deposits have been encashed since then to run the affairs of the GFA is false and nothing but a blatant lie.
It may be recalled the Goa team won the gold medal in football against much more formidable countries like Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Sao Tome and Principe. For winning the Lusofonia Games Gold medal, the GFA instead of being rewarded was punished by SAG. A total of 22 lakhs was the bill raised on SAG for the team preparation. The GFA after three long years was paid only 10 lakhs, and the rest of the amount has been kept pending as they have claimed that the SAG would be settling old dues towards use of Fatorda and Tilak stadiums, and other venues.
On March 26th, 2012 Football was declared as the “Official Sport” of Goa by the Government of Goa. The declaration of football as the official sport has proved meaningless to the Goa Football Association. We have been charged exhorbitant sums of money to use the Fatorda Stadium, Tilak Maidan. Our referees used the Athletic Stadium at Bambolim for their physical fitness test, and we were charged a sum of Rs 5000. Meetings held with the authorities where delegations of affected clubs were taken have had no effect. If Goan players, and Goan children, are not able to use the facilities which are developed in their own state, I do not see how Official Sport status can benefit Goa and its football. Truth is sometimes hard to digest, and bitter to swallow.
Revenues have been falling. Fan engagement has not been encouraging. Procam left mid way and still owes us. We had failed to sign any agreement, and we were left at the mercy of Procam. Transtadia, which was the second option, after Procam decided to withdraw are still on board, but have mobilized only a part of the committed expenses. The saving grace, here, is that GFA are protected by an agreement and we shall abide by it.
Change is inevitable. Unless we change, we cannot move forward. Sponsors have requested us to schedule the Goa Pro League in January and further, and with no Goan teams in the I-League, and in the face of an uncertain AIFF calendar, we may have to make some radical changes going forward.
We have a major international tournament on the anvil for a while, and we will not stop till we execute it. It was a strategic decision to make the Bandodkar Trophy an Under 21 Tournament, and with major European Clubs showing interest in participating in an U21 tournament, I am happy to state that the tournament will be a key youth tournament going forward.
Futsal and Beach football are spectator friendly and player friendly football formats, and have huge commercial potential. We are actively working with multiple agencies to develop opportunities. We must remember that in the last year, we have an asset of 3.5 crores – the floodlights at the Duler stadium – added to our kitty. The Stadium and the floodlights must be used to generate revenues, as is done all over the world.
Football is a relevant social phenomenon in Goa and we at the GFA have the moral duty to change its concept, to foster its practise and to take care of its execution and delivery. The GFA has created an environment which is conducive to the growth of the game, and has produced the largest number of players in the ISL, and the highest number of AFC licensed coaches. With more than 200 football clubs spread across all regions and all talukas affiliated to GFA, 1100 official matches, engagement of 6000 players, an economy revolves around the game.
Recognized as one of the most active sports associations in India, the efforts of the GFA have ensured that Goa, with a population of less than 0.2% of India has had at least 15% representation in the national football teams of the country over the past 30 years. Goan players in the Indian Super League, and all other famous competitions, who have made a mark and are projected as stars, are basically from the GFA competitions system without which they would be somewhere else.
As the captain of the ship, I can tell you that the seas may be stormy, but the sunshine and the calm waters are not too far.
Viva Goa! Viva Football!