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Football Mania and Clubs in Saligao

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

As the FIFA World Cup 2010 gets underway later today (June 11), excitement must be rising to fever pitch among the myriad fans of football in Saligao and all over Goa.

In fact, football has always been a highly popular sport in Goa and among Goans worldwide. In Saligao, the Mater Dei Institution had a full-length football ground with goalposts, nets and boundary markings all according to the established international standards for the game. At the time I was schooling there, the institution had a provision for boarders, and they were required to report at the ground every day at 5:00 pm for a game of football. Anacleto Lobo, the Principal of the school, was a strict disciplinarian, but adhered to the dictum All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

In those days the Mater Dei football team was rather good and teachers such as Archibald Serrão, W Stephens and the Principal took keen interest in extra-curricular activities. We were proud of all the big trophies the school team won. They were all well kept in a cupboard and displayed in the parlour.

Nevertheless, as youngsters in Saligao, we preferred to play football in the fields of the neighbourhood rather than on the school grounds. My friend Mel D’Souza from Saligao (also a Mater Dei alumnus), who is now in Canada, describes our football-playing exploits evocatively in his book Feasts, Feni and Firecrackers:

“We played soccer barefoot in a paddy field after the rice crop was harvested in August (some in September). That’s when the ground was dusty but dried solid by the hot sun. If we were lucky, the ground surface would be flat. If, however, cattle happened to walk through the field when it was somewhat slushy and in the process of drying, their deep hoof prints would harden and stay that way for the entire dry season. Needless to say, this made the surface very hazardous for all but those hardy kids with tough ankles—and there were a few of them whose dexterity in the pock-marked area of the field always earned my admiration. They played in that area by design rather than by choice, because the boy who owned the soccer ball picked his team—and his position on the field—so that he would get to play on the flat surface. The goalposts comprised two mounds of earth or two bamboo poles with a rope tied across the top as a crossbar.”

Football match in Saligao. Sketch by Mel D'Souza. Saligao Serenade

School Team

I remember well the day all the students of Mater Dei were asked to assemble at the school playground. Three well known football players from Bombay—Neville D’Souza, Joveniano D’Souza and goalkeeper Abu (if my memory serves me correctly)—appeared on the playground dressed in their formal Caltex team colours. Our school teams, 22 players in all, also turned out in the school colours. The Bombay players were on one side along with some of the school players, and played against the school’s first eleven. Neville’s dribbling skills and control of the ball, Joveniano’s headers and cool passes and the goalkeeper’s full-length dives and stops mesmerised us. We instantly fell in love with the Bombay trio though Neville was from Assagao and Joveniano from Calangute. Our schoolboys were no match for them, and were made to sweat by the veterans.

However, in the process the boys learned the finer points of the game. For three days they were imparted strategic and practical training by the Bombay footballers, and to their credit, they made the most of it. With all the tactics and tricks that they learned, they did their school proud, winning most of the inter-school tournaments held in Goa at the time.

Saligao Sporting Club

The youngsters from Saligao were keen to start a football team in the village, so several of them from the school and others from the village got together to form a team and then decided to form a club. That is how the Saligao Sporting Club was founded in the year 1966. It was registered in 1967 with the Goa government’s State Council of Sports and Cultural Affairs. The founder members of the club were Punaji Achrekar, Archibaldo Serrão, Naguesh Naik, Francis Carvalho, and a few others. Saligao Sporting is affiliated to Goa Football Association, Goa Volleyball Association, Goa Softball Association, and All Goa Badminton Association. Joe Fernandes (Fogó) presided as president of the club for several years. The current president is Tony Remedios. Saligao Sporting has its own premises, located in the Mudd’davaddi ward of Saligao. The club has been regularly organising football tournaments over the years and also conducts table-tennis tournaments for the villagers in addition to organising other games.

Arrarim Youth Club

Another club was set up in the village in the year 1968-69 and named the Arrarim Youth Club, although it was not registered. The affairs of the club were handled by Vincente Almeida (Chepekar), who served as its president. In later years Albino D’Souza, who was my classmate at Mater Dei, was elected president, and he had Daniel F D’Souza to help him.

An inter-village football tournament for the “Gold Plated Cup” was started by this club, organised by Valerian D’Silva (Valu) and others. This tournament was run by the Club for a few years, after which the club wound up.

GPG Club

The GPG Club (Grande, Pequeno, Goletem Club) came into existence during the tenure of Fr. Natividade D’Souza (1957-1972) as Parish Priest of Saligao.  Nicolau da Costa from Pequeno Morodd, who is involved with the club, informed me that the main person behind the club has been Domingo Travasso. Others involved include Anthony and Casimiro D’Souza, Felix Rodrigues, David Fernandes, Agostinho da Costa, Tony D’Costa, Bernard Lobo and Milagres Travasso, Although the club has not been formally registered, it does conduct football tournaments from time to time.

Adarsh Yuvak Sangh

Vivek Achrekar, son of Punaji Achrekar, provided the details of the Adarsh Yuvak Sangh:

“This versatile club was founded in the year 1978 by many like-minded people who came together to give a different stance to social activities,” Vivek stated. “There was no formal committee of the club during the initial stages but the members who came forward with an idea and ideology were Pradeep Padgaokar, Manohar Morajkar, Gajanan Morajkar, Anand Morajkar, Goculdas Kerkar, Pralhad Tuyekar, Digambar Ghadi, Mangesh Rane, Bala Rane, Shrikant Sakhalkar, Nandakishore Achrekar, Santosh Navelkar, Tulsidas Kerkar and Tulsidas Gad Kerkar, to name a few.”

“In 1983 the club was rejuvenated and registered,” Vivek continued. The social club became a sports and cultural club as well, where lots of cultural activities were undertaken, a new football team was formed, and it soon became a well-recognised club in Goa. Under the leadership of Suhas Mahambre as president, Pradeep Padgaokar as secretary and Nandakishore Achrekar as treasurer, there was no looking back. Many social activities were undertaken with guidance from renowned villagers of Saligao, who came forward wholeheartedly in support.”

Apart from the sports activities the club took the lead in several social initiatives. With voluntary contributions from members, the club constructed a small bridge (sankôv) over the nullah at Sonarbhatt just above the Ganpati immersion lake, going towards Donvaddo. Other collections were made to support important social causes.

The club organises quiz competitions and institutes scholarships for deserving students, conducts civic activities such as tree-trimming drives, and holds cricket tournaments, among many other activities. Deepak Navelkar, a prominent club member, took the initiative of setting up a music school called Adarsh Sangeet Vidyalay a few years ago.

Adarsh Yuvak Sangh celebrated its silver jubilee in 2008, and has great plans for the future. These include building a club house, setting up a multi-activity sports centre, starting a recreation centre for senior citizens and setting up a football academy for the youth of Saligao.

Saligao United

In a meeting held on 15 June 2003, it was decided by the members present to start a new club in the village of Saligao, by the name “Saligao United”.  They also decided to get the club registered with the Sports Authority of Goa and Goa Football Association for social, cultural and sports activities.

The first committee was headed by Xavier Rodrigues as president and Dayanand Mandrekar as vice-president. Other office-bearers and members of the committee were Domnic Pereira, Rudolf Dias, Moses Coutinho, Lino Fernandes, John Fernandes, Lenny D’Gama and Raju Salgaokar.

Currently, Saligao United operates with Domnic Fernandes as president and Deepak Rane as vice-president. Other office-bearers and members of the committee are Jude Fernandes, Daniel Andrade, Agnelo Dias, Peter Fernandes, Trevor Dias, Sainath Rane and Mariano Fernandes. Noel Fernandes serves as team manager and Patrick D’Souza is the coach.

Saligao United participates in football tournaments all over Goa and the club also organises a tournament of its own.

The Beautiful Game

Apart from all these clubs in the village, the youth of Mudd’davaddi and Grande Morodd organise an inter-ward tournament every year. Also, the youth of Mollebhatt-Tabrovaddo have their yearly tournament on St. Anne’s Feast Day either near St. Anne’s Chapel or at the Mollebhatt ground. It is through these inter-ward tournaments and club activities that Saligao has produced local, national and international players over the years. A few names come to my mind. They are Dominic Soares, Francis D’Souza and Romeo Remedios.  Another good player I remember is Atmaram Parulekar, a solid defender who played for Saligao Sporting Club for many years. As I am out of the village on pastoral duties, I am unable to watch the progress of the current band of upcoming footballers. But I am certain that they will be glued to their TV sets for the next few weeks carefully watching and learning from the best in the world, now in action at the World Cup. May they be inspired to bring glory to their club, village, state and country by excelling in the “Beautiful Game”!


(With inputs from Salvador Mascarenhas, Domnic Andrade, Vivek Achrekar and Valerian D’Silva)

3 comments on Football Mania and Clubs in Saligao

  • Higino Miranda

    Exmo. Sr. Padre Nascimento,
    You surely have once again taken me through your magical nostalgic path.
    Oh Yeah, of the few names of gentlemen involved in Saligao Sporting, I was happy to read the names of Naguesh Naik (If I am not mistaken is the son of Sr. Roghuvir Naik) Naguesh was requested by my mom to teach me Hindi in early 60′s when we had arrived from Africa and were on holidays at our maternal grand parents place, then Sr. Archibaldo Serrao too, I remember he too was very enthusiastic about football, and finally my uncle Francis Carvalho, who I remember used to take me around his bicycle, once even for a match in Candolim where he refreed the game.
    Cheers to you Sr. Padre, Ate ja and fond regards as usual.
    Keep in good health.
    Respectfully
    Higino

  • fr.nascinemto mascarenhas

    Dear Higino,
    I did go to see your mother Mrs Sara some days back. She is hale and hearty and Maria Helena too is fine. Manohar Naik was my companion at Mater Dei. Naguesh Naik is his brother, both sons of Roguvir Naik of Grande Morodd glad to know that Naguesh Naik taught you Hindi Your aunt Zita Carvalho was teaching me at Mater Dei Institution , but later she joined the nunery and I the Saligao Seminary the same year. Francis Carvalho and I acted together in Fr. Roberto Vaz’s many concerts held in the Saligao Church compound and he was very good in football. Isn’t Joao Carvalho who died in Canada and his urn brought to Saligao and placed in the niche , your uncle, mother’s brother? He loved Saligao. I knew your grandfather professor Luis Jose Carvalho very well During school days I went frequently to your mother’s house and Sr. Zita Carvalho was teaching me songs in english and konkani to be sung at children’s hour at Mater Dei. Mr. Luis Jose Carvalho, Mr. Damaso Carvalho Dr. Menino Machado, Mr. Paulosinho Machado, Mr.Tomazinho Ribeiro. Mr. Augusto Lobo, Mr. Ripon D’Sousa Fr. Almir’s father), Mr. Noronha and Tipri were fond of me. Those were the days. I respected them all. they did much for the ward of Grande Morodd and Saligao I have fond memories of them though they are no more. Please keep in touch. My regards and prayers to you and your family. I remember you all. fr. nascimento mascarenhas.

  • fr.nascimento mascarenhas.

    Dear Higinio,
    Thanks for your lovely comments. God bless you and your family. I did visit your mother asnd sister. They are well. We had much rain in Goa and festivities too. Do keep me in your prayers and in touch. fr. nascimento mascarenhas.

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