`Forgotten heroes’ salute Herald, GFDC

 

 ROZARIO ESTIBEIRO 
 
 RECOGNITION AT LAST: Goa’s first-ever winners of 
gold at 24th National Schools Games football 
championship in 1978 in Srinigar who were honoured by 
GFDC alongwith Deputy CM Francis D’Sousa and 
Dr Rufino Monteiro at Mira Mar, Saturday. Edmund 
Mascarenhas (capt), Baptist Fernandes (vice-captain), 
Peter Miranda, Ignatius Dias, Sarto Baptista, Agnelo 
Fonseca, Tadeu Barreto, William Machado, Caetano 
D’Sousa, Caetano D’Sousa (Maina/Chandor), 
Joseph Cardoso, John Viegas
 
The felicitation of the `forgotten heroes’ who won Goa’s first-ever gold in football at the 24th National Schools Games football championship way back in 1978 in Srinagar not only touched the hearts of the golden boys and their families but also had the who’s who of Indian football at the GIFT summit organized by GFDC filled with nostalgia at the ceremony at Mira Mar, Saturday. 
 
“It was 35 years ago that we created history in Goan football. For that feat, we were honoured with a batatwada and tea by the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA) then. That was all. We thought that we would never be remembered thereafter as years went by without showering any accolades, and even we had the feeling that we would go in our graves without that recognition and appreciation for the hard work and sweat for our beloved Goa. Our hearts however, poured out as our story which was published by Herald was promptly taken note of by Dr Rufino Monteiro, GFDC Chairman and this singular gesture shall remain etched forever in our hearts,” stated the captain of the team Edmund Mascarenhas of Porvorim, who came all the way from Bangalore to receive the award. Caetano D’Sousa of Maina Curtorim/Chandor, who was instrumental in beating Maharashtra and earn the precious qualification for the semi-finals air-dashed from Kuwait where he is working now. “We are deeply touched with the honour much more so as it is coming after 35 years. We salute Herald and GFDC,” echoed the players after receiving the award from Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Sousa, who was the chief guest at the concluding function. 
Edmund recalled the great efforts of former teacher of Don Bosco High School, late Wilson Paes (Assolna) in moulding their football career. He was a great, dedicated coach. Paes’ passion for football coaching was unique. We owe it to him and also to late Domnic Fernandes also of Don Bosco,” he added. 
Missing was the goalkeeper of the team, late Rajendra Naik of Goa Velha, who conceded only three goals in the entire championship. His wife and son were present. 
Joseph Cardoso formerly of St Lawrence HS, Agasaim, who coached the team but could not accompany the squad was also felicitated along with manager John Viegas, formerly of St Andrew’s HS, Goa Velha. 
It was a pleasant and refreshing sight to watch the Goa’s golden boys hugging each other and posing for photographs along with their wives and children, vividly and fondly recalling how they had survived with a daily allowance of Rs 15 in temperatures touching 8 to 10 degrees in tent accommodation in Srinagar after having travelled in unreserved train accommodation with some sleeping in the passages leading to the toilets in the train from Goa to Jammu and vice-versa. “It was worth it. We did it. We look forward when the second gold in schools football comes to Goa,” voiced the heroes. 
Those who were presented the award: Edmund Mascarenhas (capt), Baptist Fernandes (vice-captain), Peter Miranda, Ignatius Dias, Sarto Baptista, Agnelo Fonseca, Tadeu Barreto, William Machado, Caetano D’Sousa, Caetano D’Sousa (Maina/Chandor), Joseph Cardoso, John Viegas.  [H]