The lack of representation of Goan players in India’s age-group-level teams is a cause for concern and a testament to the state’s dwindling stocks in the sport, Pradhyum Reddy, CEO of Dempo SC, said during a panel discussion of Sportstar Sports Conclave Goa in Panjim on Friday.
“The number of clubs in the top tiers has declined. The absolute numbers in terms of players playing on the national team are around the same. The number of minutes played by players from Goa on the national teams is relatively constant. Just in the last World Cup campaign, it has dropped now. We just have one player consistently playing minutes. Goa has very little to no representation at the Under-23, Under-20, Under-19, and Under-17 levels of the national team. The knock-on effect of that is seen 10 years down the line,” Reddy said.
Goa Football Association president Caitano Fernandes believes the leadership’s lack of vision in the last 10 years has played a part in the sport’s decline in the State.
“At the national level, we have presently three clubs. From 2005 to 2015, in India, we had around 300 players playing for the Indian team and the I-League. Today, we have three clubs and we have around, altogether, at the international level in the Indian team, 20 players. In the last 10 years, football in Goa hasn’t been that popular because of a lack of vision of the leadership. Since we have taken over, we have made sure that our grassroots level is very strong. My dream for Goa is that we should have at least 400 to 500 players playing at the international level,” he said.
The lack of Goan clubs in the top tiers of the Indian football hierarchy is something that was highlighted by all panelists during the discussion. Former India goalkeeper and captain Brahmanand Sankhwalkar said that this left players with few options after graduating from age-group football.
“Plenty of football is being played here; in schools, age-group tournaments are going on. But they will only go to a certain level. Earlier, there were so many clubs. That platform is missing today. Except Churchill Brothers in the I-League and FC Goa in the ISL, where will the rest of the players go?” he said.
Meanwhile, Indian Super League (ISL) club FC Goa’s head coach, Manolo Marquez, said that to take Indian football forward, the country needs to appoint the best coaches in the academies.
“The structure of FC Goa is good compared to Hyderabad FC (his former franchise). But I have the feeling, in a lot of countries, that we are losing some important parts because we are only speaking of development. We have to improve at the grassroots. I am sure there is a big space for India in the next 10 years.
“The money is in the highest category. But the best coaches have to be in the academies. This is the moment when the kid has to start learning football. There is a process in some countries. Our assistant coach, Gourmangi Singh, started to play football at 14 or 15, which is incredible. I am from a country where football is another kind of religion. You play football from the first moment when you have a memory. The first gift is a ball. You have to play football as soon as possible. First alone, then with teammates, and finally with the opposition.
We keep speaking of when India arrives at the World Cup. That is the last part of the chain. You have to start with the development of the players and how it is done. Development is only a word. What is important is how it is done,” Marquez opined.
The session was moderated by Sportstar senior reporter Aashin Prasad.
The Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care, a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, Goa Tourism, Indian Oil, Geno Sports Club, KSG India, State Bank of India, KPMG, Great SportsTech, Casagrand, and NewsX.
- Saudi Pro League 2023-24: Al Nassr without Ronaldo draws against Al Hazem despite Talisca hattrick
- Al Nassr vs Al Hazem Highlights Saudi Pro League: NAS 4-4 HAZ; Talisca scores hattrick, Ricardo scores stoppage time equalizer
- WPL 2024: Smriti’s heroics in vain as Kapp, Jonassen help Delhi beat Bangalore by 25 runs
- German Open: Jolly-Gayatri advance to quarterfinals
- RCB-W vs DC-W Highlights WPL 2024: Delhi Capitals beats Royal Challengers by 25 runs