The Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) will organize their first football specific conference in India on March 15 and 16 with a view to catalyze the football industry.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will release the maiden football policy of the State, a first of its kind, that will outline a structured approach towards Goa’s culture and help develop a football-based eco-system. Taking note of the fact that football is hugely popular all over the State, the Chief Minister announced last year that football is the official sport of Goa.
The inaugural ‘Goa International Football Table’ (GIFT) will also lay the foundation to initiate vital dialogue on the importance of football in relation to the socio-economic development of Goa. Government officers, football officials, clubs, players and coaches, members of the media, sponsors, brands and sports investors are expected to attend the event.
Dr Rufino Monteiro, Chairman, GFDC said, “Indian players possess immense talent, which needs to be nurtured in the right manner for them to shine. The inaugural conference is an important part of GFDC’s multiple steps to channelize talent with the available infrastructure, facilities in the country and across the globe.”
The conference is expected to be a landmark event in Goa and herald the beginning of a brand new journey in the development of football in India, added Dr Rufino.
Elvis Gomes, Executive Director, SAG, GFA vice-president and GFDC member secretary stated: "Over the years, Goa has been synonymous with good quality, skilled football. Through the conference, we will take it a step forward to help develop the game and present players across India’s multiple opportunities to excel. We are confident that the event will play a crucial role in altering the course of the game for its stakeholders.”
The theme for the 2013 conference is ‘Home Grown Heroes’ and eminent speakers from across the world representing different organizations in the global sports industry will deliberate on India’s pending emergence on the global footballing platform. The conference aims to create an annual framework and an environment for investment in the sport, networking within the community and create an interface for the stakeholders. Discussions on topics ranging from talent, community development, competitions and infrastructure creation to professionalizing the sport and marketing will be organized, a spokesman of TransStadia, who are the knowledge partners and mainly responsible for organizing it, stated.
The ‘GIFT Awards’ will endeavour to honour and recognize young achievers in Goan football along with current and past players for life time achievement, players with promise, referee of the year, administrator of the year, and coach of the year awards. The winners will receive prize money and a trophy.
GIFT intends to create corporate interest in the State to help support initiatives that facilitate the overall growth of football. It will also attract investment towards developing the sport at the grassroots and make Goa a football powerhouse and role model state in India.
The famous quartet – ABCD of Vasco, Andrew (posthumous), Bernard, Catao and Domnic – Rekha Kharapurkar (posthumous), late Fr Adolfo Viegas (administrator), Armando Colaco (coach) will be honoured. An under-20 player is also expected to be honoured.
GFDC perhaps, could consider recognizing the first achievers of gold in football for Goa – the State schools football team which bagged the first-ever gold in football at National inter-school football championship in 1978 in Srinagar. They have been the unsung heroes, with no recognition being bestowed on them whatsoever at any level.
It was in the same year that Goa were denied the Santosh Trophy with Bengal winning it after referee Ikram-ul-Haq denied a legitimate goal in the finals also in Srinagar. But the Goa Juniors avenged that loss beating hosts J&K in the finals, for the first-ever football gold. Earlier, in the semi-finals, Goa beat Punjab and Maharashtra in the quarter-finals. Football fans in Srinagar openly commented that the Santosh Trophy was taken away from Goa but that the Goa Juniors had more than made up for the injustice.
Actually, Goa were trailing Maharashtra in the quarter-finals of the inter-school event and it looked as if they were on their way out until the induction of volleyball player Caetano from Maina-Curtorim who had just played the last match in the inter-schools national volleyball championship earlier in the day. It was at the instance of the volleyball coach that Caetano was asked to be fielded in the football team since all Goa matches were over. Football coach, late Domnic Fernandes of Don Bosco, who was the secretary of now defunct Goa, Daman Diu Schools Sports Association and manager John Viegas readily agreed since Goa were trailing Maharashtra and the rest is history. Caetano, who did not play in earlier football matches at all, not only scored the equalizer, but went on to notch the precious match-winner to take Goa into the crucial semi-finals. Edmund Mascarenhas, Sarto Baptista, Agnelo Fonseca, John of Velsao were some of the members of that victorious team.
The team returned to Goa then only to be offered tea and snacks. The boys went home dejected that they were not duly recognized and much less rewarded. It will be not out of place for GFDC to at least shower recognition, where all others, failed. Better late than never, in true sporting spirit. History will recall that these were the Goa Junior boys who wrote the first golden chapter. [H]