GIFT set to catalyse football development


 Goa will be exposed to an array of speakers from Europe, Africa, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and All India Football Federation (AIFF), apart from India’s leading football thinkers, businessmen, marketing and media executives at the first Goa International Football Table (GIFT), which gets underway at the Hotel Marriott, here on Friday.
The speakers will include Mr Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation, Mr Wim Koevermans, Coach, Indian Football Team, Mr Shrinivas Dempo, Chairman, Dempo Sports Club, Mr Radhakrishnan Sreenivasan, Sports Editor/Senior Presenter, Neo Sports, Mr Sundeep Misra, Head, Sports Initiatives, Network 1, Dr Robin Petersen, CEO, South African Football Association, Mr Joan Cusco, Executive Vice-President, FIFA Beach Soccer World Wide, Mr Mohamed Basir, Coach Education Department, Mr R Sasikumar, Group MD, Red Card Group, Mr Agnello Dias, Chairman & Co-Founder, Taproot, Hass Aminian, Director of Business Development for Asia Pacific, Sportfive, Arunava Chaudhuri, Chief Editor Sports Commentator, Raj Gomes of Salgaocar Sports Club, Joshua Lewis, CEO, Kenkre Football Academy, Peter Vaz, President, Sporting clube de Goa, Porush Jain, CEO Sportskeeda, Valanka Alemao, CEO Churchill Bros SC, PK Mukherjee, MD, Vedanta SESA FA, Mr Mariano Barretto, UEFA Pro License Coach, Sioulas Anastasios Coach, SESA GOA FC and Vinod Parkott, President, Vasco SC.
Speaking at a press conference here on Wednesday, Dr Rufino Monteiro, Chairman, Goa Football Development Council, said, “A revolution of Goa football has started and we at GFDC are ensuring towards creating policy, competition, infrastructure and talent.”
“Goa serves as a catalyst and gateway for football in India. Our endeavour to achieve our dream of putting Indian football on the International and world map is gradually unfolding,” Dr Rufino added.
“We are confident that the inaugural Goa International Football Table will serve as a vital platform to ensure that sport develops and players get the best nurturing and promotion,” he continued.
GFDC Member Secretary and SAG Executive Director, Mr Elvis Gomes while commenting on GIFT said: “Preparations to hold the first football-specific conference in India are on. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome our esteemed speakers to Goa and believe that GIFT will provide us with the perfect platform to initiate vital knowledge exchange on the development of the sport in Goa and the rest of India.”
Mr Gomes added that Goa looks at the future with hope and the day is not far when Goan football will rise to match up to International standards.
Mr Gomes also highlighted that the state government is backing football to the fullest and in the months to come will have top infrastructure in place to ensure that grassroot development is in full swing.
Mr Gomes disclosed that all major football venues in the state will be equipped with floodlight facilities. With Nehru stadium and Tilak stadium already being readied for major activities like the Lusofonia Games and I-League respectively, GFA-owned Duler stadium too will get the floodlight facility in the near future and will be available for year-round football activities, Mr Gomes said.
That apart, football development at grassroots will be the key area of focus and as such school league system, club tournaments on a regular basis will be introduced as infrastructure in the future will not be a problem. Outside grounds at Nehru stadium will also be equipped  
With FIFA artificial turf that will enable age group players to undertake practice throughout the year, Mr Gomes maintained. Even Poriat in the north shall have such facility.
Dempo lays emphasis on sustainability model
Also lending his thoughts at the briefing was GFA president and Chairman of Dempo Sports Club Pvt Ltd, Mr Shrinivas V Dempo. In his comments, Mr Dempo congratulated the GFDC for holding the first GIFT and with Dr Monteiro promising it to be a annual feature at the logo unveiling function, Mr Dempo said GIFT will definitely help build on Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar’s vision for  football in Goa with GFDC itself being his brainchild.
Mr Dempo hoped that GIFT will bring forth an action plan for football in Goa keeping in mind the future of this game as he felt that GFDC, GFA and SAG together had a role to play in unison to take Goan football to the next level. “As GFA president, I hope to see Goa becoming the best destination for football,” Mr Dempo asserted. “GIFT is certainly a great initiative  and I am confident that both GFA and GFDC will build a strong partnership in the days to come to meet the challenges and help raise Goan football to the next level,” Mr Dempo said.
As a club owner, Mr Dempo maintained that there was a need to come out with a sustainable model which will ensure that revenue comes back to the clubs, who invest in crores to compete at the top level. He also stressed on nurturing home-grown talent to build strong teams of the future as clubs invest big money on recruiting foreigners for I-League but fall flat while performing at the AFC competitions, simply because the performance standards are not up to the desired level. “Efforts must be made to develop a model that allows clubs to be sustainable and ensures that they also get stronger,” Mr Dempo summed up.  
Meanwhile, GIFT will launch the GIFT Awards, which endeavours to honour and recognize achievers and bestow lifetime achievement awards to Goans who have contributed to football.
The awards ceremony will see four players receiving the life-time achievement award along with a few coaches and referees. GIFT will also reward the most promising U20 footballer of Goa, Mauvin Borges of Sesa Football Academy and will felicitate the 1978 Goa Schools football team which emerged champions at the 24th National School Games (Autumn Meet) in Srinagar securing the football gold for the first time in the history of Goan football.
A special football parade will also be held akin to a victory parade with emerging players and football stars from yesteryears in attendance on the March 16. The star-studded parade will include celebrity players like Sunil Chhetri, Inder Singh, Magan Singh, Syed Naeemuddin, Suneil Shetty and well-known football juggler, Jestes Antony among others.
The sporting spectacle will flag off in Panaji and will see football stars travel to five popular schools around Panaji where they will interact with school children and hand over footballs to promote the fun-loving sport. [NT]