Football runs in the blood of Goans as can be seen in Hong Kong-based Goan, 18-year-old Stefan Fernandes, who rose to become the first Indian to play for Hong Kong National U-14 and U-16 teams and presently is training in UK under Brooke House College Football Academy which won the ECFA football league championship 2011-12.
Stefan, whose Navelim-based parents Anselm and Cathay Pacific airhostess Wendy moved to Hong Kong for better job prospects, played friendly matches with youth academies from Newcastle FC, Hull City FC, Birmingham FC, Nottingham Forest FC, Leceister City and represented the Hong Kong National Youth Soccer teams in U-13,U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 categories. When inducted in the Hong Kong team, he was the only non-Chinese speaking player. Presently, he has been selected for the U-20 Hong Kong National team to participate in the National Games of China in Shanghai from April 2-13.
Being a regular member of Hong Kong Juniors, Stefan represented Hong Kong in AFC-14 championship in 2009 and AFC U-16 championship qualifiers in 2010. His proudest moment came when he was selected for the All-Star Asia team when representing Hong Kong U-14 National team in the festival in Beijing.
“Being a player myself, I have trained my son early,” stated Colvale-born Anselm who was a regular member of Mahindra Tractors team in Mumbai. “He started training when he was seven, his forte being his intelligence and ability to play to the situation. He is speedy as a right half and most importantly passionate. He has now been shifted to the defence by his coaches in England, because of his speed and positional play. His dream is to play professional football for an English Club,” added his father.
Stefan has been a regular member of Hong Kong’s leading football club, Kitchee’s youth teams, whose senior team has versatile professionals from Spain and is currently leading the top division. Being part of the youth team, he was the highest scorer in one season, having received an award from England and Liverpool legend John Barnes. With Kitchee, Stefan won the Nike Premiership in Hong Kong, U-15 Premier Championship twice with the team being invited for a tournament in China subsequently.
Being a recipient of Hong Kong schools students sports award in 2008-09 and school sportsman award of the year in Po Leunk Kuk Secondary School in 2009, Stefan received several awards from legends like Lawrie Sanchez, Gary Megson besides the highest goal scorer award for Kitchee twice.
Besides, attending the Manchester United Soccer School in Hong Kong, Stefan had stints with Liverpool Football Academy (Liverpool) in 2007 on the recommendation of Barnes and was invited by the Asia Pacific Football Academy-New Zealand in association with Everton Football Club to attend a week long training session. [H]