The Most Influential Clubs in Goan Football
The state of Goa is widely considered to be a top source of football talent in the country. Over the years, the state has produced numerous players who have contributed massively to the development and growth of the sport in a cricket dominated country. Goan-origin football clubs have been successful at the national level, and have been an ever present force in the I-league, India’s national league and various other domestic tournaments over the years as well.
With the recent emergence of the Indian Super League, interest in football in the country has increased exponentially and it only seems to be gaining momentum as each season passes. Therefore, there’s no better time to delve into the specifics of Goan football culture and trends.
To begin with, here is a list of the 10 most influential football clubs that have propelled Goa to the top of the football chain.
10 – FC Bardez Goa
Founded in 2016, FC Bardez Goa gained a lot of support in lead up to their first Goa Professional League campaign. The Mapusa-based team appointed former Dempo SC and East Bengal FC boss Armando Colaco their head coach. Furthermore, they hired former Indian national team defender Climax Lawrence as the Assistant coach, while former national goalkeeper Chandrakant Naik was brought in as the goalkeeping coach. The team ended their season as Goa Police Cup winners in their first competitive season.
9- Santa Cruz Club of Cavelossim
The Santa Cruz Club of Cavelossim was established in the year 1942 as a social, cultural, and sports club. The club has helped many young footballers live their dream of playing the sport at a professional level. The club made it to the top division of Goa football for the first time in the 2016-2017 season and finished in seventh place.
8 – Laxmi Prasad Sports Club
Laxmi Prasad Sports Club was founded back in the year 1960 and has been one of the prominent mainstays of Goan football. Within two seasons of the Goa Professional League, the club has moved from second to top division in Goan football.. While doing so, Laxmi Prasad SC remained unbeaten throughout the two-division jump, which in itself is recordworthy. Former Indian international player Climax Lawrence is still a player for the club.
7 – Sesa Football Academy
Founded in 1999, the Sesa Football Academy (Sanquelim) has been the first step in the careers of various football professionals like Denzil Franco, Rowilson Rodrigues, Adil Khan, Godwin Franco and Gabriel Fernandes
Former Ireland international and Manchester City footballer, Terry Phelan was brought on board as the chief mentor and technical director for the academy in 2011. The Irishman also went on to coach Indian Super League team Kerala Blasters FC during the 2015 season.
6- Vasco Sports Club
Vasco Sports Club is one of the oldest football clubs in the state. It was founded in 1951 by Vasco residents along with the Portuguese andwas christened Clube de Desportos Vasco de Gama. Presently, Vasco SC is the oldest registered club participating in the state’s top competition, the Goa Professional League, and has gone on to win the title six times between 1954 to 1969. The club has produced a number of top players over the years, including current FC Goa shortstopper Laxmikant Kattimani.
5- Sporting Clube de Goa
Initially founded in 1999 under the name Cidade de Goa, the club was later renamed Sporting Clube de Goa, and is also fondly knows as ‘Flaming Orange’. The Goan club was a regular in the I-league until it pulled out of the competition in 2016, citing the AIFF bias against I-League. The club has been a runners-up in the top division one time and is also a three-time runners-up in the Federation Cup. The club has also won the Goa Professional League on two occasions, most recently in 2015-2016.
4- Churchill Brothers Sports Club
Founded in 1988 under the name Varca Club, the club was renamed Churchill Brothers SC after being bought by Churchill Alemao, prominent politician and ex Chief Minister of Goa.Following the change in ownership, the club reached new heights of success, goingon to win two I-league titles in the years 2009 and 2013, and also finishing as runners-up in 2008 and 2010. The ‘Red Machine’ is also a three-time Durand Cup winner, having won silver in the years 2007, 2009 and 2011. To top off that trail of success, the club has won the Goa Professional League seven times.
3 – Salgaocar Football Club
Salgaocar Football Club, or ‘The Greens’, was founded back in 1956. Salgaocar has produced numerous talented football professionals over the last few decades. Former captain of the Indian national team, Bruno Coutinho, former Indian national defender Climax Lawrence, and goalkeeper Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, who are all sporting legends in the state have all plied their trade for the Vasco based club. Salgaocar FC are two-time winners of the I-league/National Football League, four-time winners of the Federation cup, and winners of the Durand cup thrice over. Salgaocar FC is one of the most successful domestic clubs and has won the domestic league eighteen times.
2 – Dempo Sports Club
The Golden Eagle, founded in 1968, have been the pillars of Goan football along with Salgaoncar FC. The club has consistently produced top talent for decades now. Top players like current Indian national captain Sunil Chhetri, striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, Clifford Miranda, Afghanistan international Zohib Islam Amiri, and Goan youth icons Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai have all passed through the Dempo SC ranks. The club has won the I-league on three occasions, the Durand Cup once and the Federation Cup once. Dempo SC is second only to Salgaocar in terms of number of domestic titles won, having won the title thirteen times.
1 – FC Goa
Established in 2014 ahead of the first season of the Indian Super League, FC Goa has gone on to become an emblem of Goan football. The club has seen top international talent like former Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires, Andre Santos, and UEFA Champions League and World Cup winner Lucio put on the blue jersey. Brazilian midfield legend Zico was entrusted with club-coaching duties. His attacking philosophy made the club instant title contenders. The Gaurs lost out in the semi-finals and then, heartbreakingly in the finals of the 2015 edition. However, the club managed to generate tremendous passion for the sport, uniting the people of Goa through their common love for the sport, and is undoubtedly one of the most influential clubs in the state today.