As Goa starts its campaign to bring back the glory of Santosh trophy for the sixth time on Monday, the team will be guided on the sidelines by a man who epitomises rewards that flow with hardwork – Samir Subash Naik.
Samir Naik started his playing career with Dempo SC in 1999 and has never seen the colours of another club since. At 40, he could well finish as being the first Dempo Sports club coach to win the national crown for Goa.
Born in Mumbai in 1979, Samir has been part of the Dempo team that won the National league twice and reached the AFC cup semifinals once. From playing he switched to coaching and in his ups and downs ride as coach, he is at the helm for two years imposing himself as one of the best man in the job in the Goa Professional League (GPL).
Samir grew as coach under the tutelage of former Dempo SC coach Mauricio Afonso. When the latter was in charge, the former was his deputy and the rhythm continued in this monotony until Mauricio took ill and the mantle fell on Samir.
The taking over was unexpected and sudden. But, Samir’s reaction was quick and the results have improved every match. In his first year in charge, Dempo was the only team without a foreign player and almost clinched the crown had it not been for situations outside the clubs control.
The situation has changed in Goa Football Association (GFA) and Samir now appears to be taking his team to the top through his and his player’s hard work. “It is all about the players. I can tell and guide and my works ends there. It is what they do on the field that matters. They are the ones who decide whether the team wins or loses. Actually, when they are in, they are the bosses and I am a spectator whose blood is on the boil, “avers Samir.
As a player, Samir knew how to regain a lost ball and how not to lose a ball without losing his own cool. He is the same cool guy on the bench now – watching and belting instructions only when he thinks it is imperative.
“We all want to win the title for Goa. Every coach wants to win. The story is different this time because I have been given a free hand with a lot of trust and that trust left with me by GFA can only be paid by bringing back the trophy,” explains Samir.
“It is not possible to be 100 per cent sure because football in India is evolving fast. There are players who I have never heard of playing for other teams and they are capable of the incredible. The uncertainty factor is high because of the new faces that other teams are carrying. But, we are preparing for that and will be ready when the time comes,” promises Samir.
Samir began his career as assistant to Mauricio and has taken over almost single handedly .Most of the times he is alone in the dugout studying the mathematics of how to get the best out of his boys and that does not deter him one bit.
“ I may appear to be alone but I am not. There was a time last season when I wanted to add three players to the squad and I was scolded for that by a few. I pleaded with Secretary Willy that I needed to meet the chairman to explain my point. The meeting was fixed and the chairman sanctioned me the funds to get the three boys. I am not alone in Dempo and never have been. With the chairman and a secretary like Willy, the feeling of loneliness never comes up. I know they are there to back me to the hilt and that explains the results,” confesses Samir.
Samir as coach of Dempo Sports Club has been able to get the best out of his boys. Joaquim Abranches ,who was used sparingly, is today the top goal scorer of the Goa Professional League ; was the top goal scorer during the qualification rounds of the West Zone ; and could well be the top scorer if Goa brings home the title. A boy who was being overlooked is today most looked for goals.
Pedro Gonsalves was one of the players Samir wanted in the team. He is proving to be a handful for opponents now. Pedro missed the cut for the Nationals but his contribution to Dempo SC is getting the team closer to the GPL title.
Samir is the type of coach who studies and that is why he knows how to get the best out of his boys and that explains why Dempo SC is way beyond other teams, in terms of goals scored. Dempo nearly averages three goals a game and that is because of the flamboyance entertained by coach Samir.
“The rule to field and have three U-20 players all through 90 minutes can be a hiccup but I have matured U-20 players in the squad. It is a twitch sometimes but not something that really worries me a lot because he rule applies to all teams. It is a question of whether they have better U-20 players then we have and I think no,” affirms Samir.
At 40, Samir has a long way to go in football and with him Dempo SC has a smooth journey because he is one of the few who likes to hone local talent, silently. An A license coach , Samir has more to study to and the more he does , the better he will manage to arrange football because Samir is about simplicity and the ball flows best with a simple kick.