Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
Gaurav Padte, a student from Mapusa, made it to the news last year during the Indian Super League (ISL), in Goa, for cleaning up the stadium post matches along with a few likeminded people. This year, Gaurav plays a different role at Fatorda stadium – that of the FC Goa mascot. In the ‘Gaurdinho’ costume he not only enthrals and entertains, but also spreads the message of cleanliness.
Gaurav, who has also been mascot for other events, got asked if would like to be the mascot for FC Goa at a party. “I decided to take it up as this kind of opportunity doesn’t come by often. And furthermore, The Football Dug Out has allowed me to get funny and adventurous in my role as mascot,” shares Gaurav.
The feeling on the ground while FC Goa plays, with fans roaring all around the stadium, is an experience he cannot describe. At a loss of words he manages – “It’s just beautiful there…so much passion and zeal around and when you get to be in the middle of all that as the mascot the experience and feeling is truly one of a kind”.
He does feel the pressure in keeping eighteen thousand people energized – required as he is to cheer the crowd before and after the game and during half time. This requires him to take rounds of the stadium. Gaurav says: “It isn’t as easy as it looks because the costume is heavy and it is hot inside. Sometimes I get tired halfway through, but I can’t sit and rest. I have to continue.”
Ask him what’s the best part of being mascot during home matches? Gaurav says: “I don’t want to sound clichéd, but I actually enjoy everything about being mascot, and every moment being on ground.”
“Whether at the stadium or at fan rallies, I’m there; the big bull amidst roaring fans. I have to get all of them involved and into the mood of football and fun. What they also love doing is clicking selfies with me,” he shares before adding that this opportunity has allowed him to make the sad, happy and the grumpy, laugh along.
Not all are exited at his sight. There are children who get frightened looking at the bull. Recalling one recent incident Gaurav says he had to take off the mask and apologise to a little girl.
Gaurav says he has been lucky, not only for getting the opportunity, but also because this has taught him how to manage studies and work. Taking forward the awareness campaign he started last year, Gaurav says: “This year, we noticed there were no plastics and eatables allowed inside the stadium for the first two matches. But after the third game, the stadium was a mess.” Though they have not managed to clean up like last year, his group ensure they carry a banner giving out the message of cleanliness.
The costume was conceptualized and created by The Football Dug Out and weighs close to 12 kgs.