‘Standard of football in national c’ship falling’, feels former goalkeeper Brahamanand Sankhwalkar

“I didn’t see a single player from both teams who would one day become a star. The standard of football in the national championship has come down drastically now,” feels Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, who was one of India’s greatest goalkeeper and an Arjuna awardee.

Former Goa Captain and Arjuna Awardee Brahmanand Sankhwalkar.   -  Special Arrangement

Bengal against Goa in Santosh Trophy would be the marquee match of the tournament if it was staged in the 90s. The match between the two traditional rivals in the 71st edition of the National championship at GMC stadium in Bambolim turned out be a damp squib. Watching from the stands was one of India’s greatest goalkeeper and Arjuna awardee Brahmanand Sankhwalkar. Like many he wasn’t impressed with the quality of football dished out by both the teams in the middle.

“I didn’t see a single player from both teams who would one day become a star. The standard of football in the national championship has come down drastically now. I always held the view that stars are born from tournaments. Playing and performing at your best in a tournaments is a challenge as you have to do well in every match. I feel a league is not a challenge. In the league the performance of a player can taper off and he still can use his contacts to land another contract with a different club next season,” he said.

The former Goa captain and first Arjuna awardee in football from Goa feels the All-India Football Federation’s thinking on Santosh Trophy is skewed and the federation is not accepting ideas from former players and others associated with the game. “If it is a national tournament I believe your best players in the country should take part in it. The AIFF should revive popular tournaments like Federation Cup, Rovers Cup, Durand Cup etc if they really want football to improve. These were popular tournaments which attracted top teams and drew spectators,” he said.

READ: Bruno Coutinho: 'Santosh Trophy should be made relevant’

“Personally I have great memories of Santosh Trophy. Playing against some of former greats of Indian football was a challenge. I am still proud of my record in Santosh Trophy in 1984 where I didn’t concede a single goal when Goa won the tournament,” said the man nick named the Leopard in his playing days.

Brahamanand said he was sceptical about the role ISL will play to improve football in the country. “To be honest I am not in a position to comment on that right now but I can say that with the advent of ISL the interest in the I-league has diminshed. I think Indian players should be given more chance to play in I-league and over dependence on foreigners is not going to help Indian football. AIFF should at least ensure that teams largely field Indian players in second division I-league,”said Brahmanand.

  Dugout videos