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Katz Naidoo gets football’s eternal embrace

AUGUSTO RODRIGUES  | NT

Panaji: Katz Naidoo, former technical director of Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) who later joined Dempo Sports Club to start Goa’s first residential football academy, passed away in his hometown South Africa on Wednesday.

Katz first came to Goa in 2014 to give teeth to Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) where he worked as technical director for a year. It was during his term at GFDC that the football centres that were being opened around Goa took technical shape and coaching youngsters was given a professional thrust.

Katz was not a great football player in South Africa but through the years became a great learner of the game and during his last years with football in Goa, began to spread the knowledge he acquired. “Every human being is drawn towards any sport. So, it is imperative to develop the physical side of a person first and then develop the sport a child loves,” Katz had said when he first came to Goa and it was through this maxim of his that grassroots football in Goa began to take shape.

“My name is Karnagaran Naidoo. Call me Katz,” he would say. Katz was born to Indian parents who had settled in South Africa. He started office at 7.30 am in the morning and finished by 4 pm and spent the rest of the evening reading reports, watching football on television as he sipped his drink.

If football was his love, helping the lesser privileged was his passion and that explained the hours he sometimes spent with the orphans or destitute children in homes created for them in Agassaim and Nuvem. Katz, in his own way, brought joy into many little souls.

Katz joined Dempo Sports Club to spearhead the team’s youth development programme and start the first residential football academy in Goa. It was the first time that Katz was managing an academy but through the four years – from scratch to the structure that it is today– Katz showed no qualms about how to run an academy.

The late Theodore “Ted” Dumitru a Romanian football manager who is best known for his time in South Africa was Katz’s guru. “That guy is a wizard,” Katz would say and he kept in constant touch with Ted till he passed away.

Katz was brought to Dempo by former general secretary Wilfred D’souza in 2015 and he was in the process of renewing his contract in July this year before he felt ill and asked for leave to visit South Africa.

Katz had brought in a professional regiment in young coaches in Goa and will be remembered for coaching the coaches. He joined Goa when they were few coaches and professionalism had not yet set in.

Since starting the residential Academy at Ella in Old Goa, Katz saw to it that the Dempo SC junior team excelled in Goa.

“Football is a game that knows who loves it and who uses it. If you think you can use football, one day it will kick you so hard that you will never be able to recover,” Katz used to say. In his case, football has probably called him to see another bounce of the ball.

Katz leaves behind his wife, son and daughter.

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