Goa – Home of Indian Football
Let’s delve into how football came to be Goa’s official sport.
“Football is the ballet of the masses.”
– Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich
Goa’s love affair with the game of football has been plain to see for a while. From dawn to dusk, if you scale the Goan landscape you’ll find kids kicking the ball around and honing their skills in hopes of becoming the next Pele or Ronaldo. This fixation with the game has its roots in Goa’s time as a Portuguese enclave, until it was liberated 56 years ago. Wherever the Portuguese went, they popularised football, including Goa and Brazil.
Goa has contributed significantly to the growing footballing culture in India. Some of India’s most prolific and prominent footballers like Bramhanand, Bruno Coutinho, and Climax Lawrence call Goa home.
In 2012, under the leadership of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the government of Goa announced that Football would henceforth be the official sport of Goa. The Goa State Football Development Council (GFDC) was set up under the chairmanship of renowned cardiologist Rufino Monteiro, a football enthusiast who’s fiercely committed to the game. The GFDC also received a grant of Rs.5 crores from the ruling government, with promise of an additional grant if needed, to develop the sport in the state.
Currently, the GFDC has established 38 centres with 100+ coaches training more than 4000 kids under grassroots programs across the state. The GFDC has remained firm in its endeavour to promote and undergird local talent by giving kids holistic support when it comes to football and academics.
The GFDC has also built 2 Pre-Academies for girls selected from GFDC centres, who have completed grassroots training at age 12. They are given specialised training at Non-residential Pre-Academies to enable them to further develop their football skills and participate in competitive tournaments. These Pre-Academies are located in a way to facilitate ease of travel to trainees.
Establishing a strong grassroots system and support from the administration has propelled Goan football to newer heights. Goan I-league teams have won more trophies (9) in the top tier league of Indian football- The I League, than any other state in India.
Success doesn’t come by accident, it’s the constant effort from all those invested in the development of the sport that has raised the quality of game in Goa. Parents are relatively more confident of football being a viable and sustainable career choice, and are now letting their kids engage with the sport by giving them all the support they need.
Goa has miles to go when it comes to meeting international standards of training facilities, coaches and conditioning, but it’s been a positive start with nowhere to go but forward.