Goa’s Santosh Trophy campaign is over and when it ends in defeat, it always brings a touch of sadness but the way is to look forward. This time, despite being knocked out, the party appears not to be over because Goa’s participation at the national level is creating a transparent base for the progress of football in Goa.
Soon after Goa’s loss to Punjab in Ludhiana, I spoke to match commissioner and this is what he had to say: “We were sure Goa would reach the finals because of the way they played right from the first day. They kept on improving every game and it was their play that made them sure finalists and favourites to win the title. They played very well today. Maybe it will be fair to say that Punjab played a bit better today. But Goa deserved to reach the final.
Perceptions in football differ and therefore much credence should not be given to what the match official said. However, what he said was worth recounting because a few mile stones were set before and during the teams participation.
A coach is normally not given a free hand when it comes to the selection of a team because before, marks were awarded to sportspeople if they represented the State at the national level. This system of marks was done away with by the late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar when in a Cabinet decision his government had decided to credit sports mark only to sportspeople seeking admissions to professional colleges.
It has been a long times since I noticed a team – we are talking the specifics of football – selected with just about the best talent available in the state. The twenty chosen by coach Samir Naik were from amongst the best talent available in Goa and that is why Goa’s defeat illustrates how advanced football in India is growing and how Punjab is making a comeback in a big way.
Punjab is on a road of drugs and alcohol. Once the granary of agriculture and sportspeople has turned to a granary of drugs and that Punjab has reached the finals is an indication that the worst is over and the best is beginning.
Punjab and the advent of the States from the North East is one aspect that has dominated the Santosh Trophy Nationals and how talent is being nurtured in Goa is the other. Samir Naik picked over five under- 20 and their contribution during the tournament was something we need to pat our backs with.
Chaitan Komrapant , according to reports available , turned out a stellar performance. He not only had his feet in assists but had a few goals to his credit. Similar was the story of Ronaldo Oliveira and Stendly Fernandes. There were others in the U-20 category who participated and did well based on the comments of coach Samir Naik.
Goa has done better than this at the Santosh Trophy before. But the truth is- it was not doing so well before Churchill Alemao took over the reins of Goa Football Association(GFA) and the change is coming about not because he has taken charge but because he has handed over charge of the Technical and Coaching Committee to Lavinio Rebello.
For newcomers, Lavinio is the vice president from North Goa who was single handedly responsible for Churchill’e election to the top job. He is a school teacher, Panchayat member of Anjuna and a guy who will at most times stick his neck out for the truth. There are times when he dithers and those are when the politician in him is wide awake.
If Goa is seeing change, and coach Samir was one of them to feel the change in attitude, it is because Lavinio knows the nuances of fair play when it comes to selecting a team to represent a State. As chairman of the Technical and Coaching Committee Lavinio has tried to keep bias away and give credence to talent and this is the first positive change that can be seen of this new GFA Executive Committee.
For once, relatives have to take a rest.
Samir Naik is a nice man, not because he is a Dempo SC coach but because he knows the importance of studying; knows how to handle responsibility; knows when to pull the plug; knows when to say enough is enough. If Samir was proud of the way his boys performed it is an indicator of the change that is slowly taking place in GFA and that is a change for good.
Goa is out of the Santosh Trophy but this is just one of the many AIFF tournaments Goa will have to participate in. The road ahead is long. Beyond participating in tournaments there will be the task to prepare our girls for selection to the India U-17 team to participate in the 2020 FIFA U-17 Womens World Cup.
Goa failed to have a single name in the U17 World Cup squad. We cannot afford another fiasco again. If the preparation for the Santosh Trophy was the first step, the step to the FIFA U-17 Womens World Cup will not be long because transparency appears to be on GFA’s doorsteps.