When the Indian Super league (ISL) started in 2014 the budget of each team was around Rs 25 crore a season. It remained in that range for another two seasons and slowly witnessed a downfall. Six years down the line, teams are now managing their budget with Rs 16 crore and with the decline in spending, there is a decline in the standard of football and therefore a downturn in public participation.
There has been no increase or decline in public participation for ISL matches in Goa. However, the stream of Goan players falling out of the competition is seeing a steady flow whilst players’ joining the main stream is declining.
Jessel Carneiro from Dempo Sports Club is the only player from Goa to have signed for ISL in the sixth year of its existence.
Apart from the players in FC Goa’s kitty, Rowllin Borges, Keenan Almeida, Adil Khan, Cavin Lobo, Augustin Fernandes, Romeo Fernandes and Albino Gomes are the other seven players that will be seen in action with Jamshedpur FC, Mumbai City FC, ATK, North East United FC and Delhi Dynamos.
The story was different in the past. There were players from Goa – not just one but at times two or three – with ATK, Kerala Blasters, Chennaiyin FC, Bengaluru FC, FC Pune City, Mumbai City FC and Delhi Dynamos when the ISL was a tournament and the three main teams from Goa – Dempo SC, Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa – walked out of the I-league with uncertainty cropping over the roadmap being prepared for football in India by AIFF.
The uncertainty still persists and with it hangs the future of footballers in Goa.
“The problem is not because the three teams from Goa have opted out but because the rest of the clubs in India are not really ready to invest in football when the outlook is bleak. There is a veil of secrecy around the game and no game can survive without transparency. Football in India today lacks transparency and it is affecting the ecosystem of football. This is the problem,” stated one of India’s senior most coaches on condition of anonymity.
“Glan Martins is a player who could have easily been playing for any team in ISL. He did not get the exposure with the team he was in before and has therefore rightly decided to join Churchill Brothers FC for a year. He has joined Churchill for the exposure that he missed by playing in the Goa Professional league (GPL),” stated the coach who has been following Glan for a while.
FC Goa has seven players from Goa in its stable among whom only three have a steady role to play. From these three, left back Seriton Fernandes and Lenny Rodrigues have had the maximum number of minutes on the pitch. Brandon Fernandes has is second, in terms of time on the pitch, and last year’s captain Mandar third and that too in a position he is yet to adapt to.
From among the remaining three – Liston Colaco, Saviour Gama and Princeton Rebello – Liston was given ten minutes.
The season may not change for these boys this season because Sergio Lobera has a plan and has players that fit into his plan. Only an injury could open up an opportunity for the three to have a sneak preview of ISL during season 6.
“When a coach has the set of players to suit his style of play and they are producing the results he wants, he is not going to give other players a chance to break the momentum. Mandar is being played in the back because he has Boumous, Brandon, Lenny, Edu Bedia, Ahmed Jahou and Jackichand Singh. Where is he going to play Mandar when his plate is full? ” asked a Pro License coach following the tournament.