FOOTBALL, FISH AND FENI! By Dr Olav Albuquerque

By Dr Olav Albuquerque

THE Goa Government’s grant of Rs1.3 crore for the Goa Football Association (GFA) to revive the moribund Bandodkar Gold Trophy football tournament, which was started in 1970 or thereabouts, will give a fillip to what Goa is famous for – football which is the first of the three Fs being Football, Fish and Feni.
Dayanand Bandodkar was a mine-owner and the founder of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party which wanted to merge Goa with Maharashtra. But human beings are complex and after the 1967 Opinion Poll which saw Dr Jack Sequeira of the United Goans Party defeat the merger proposal for Goa to retain its separate identity, football prospered.
I had just shifted from the prestigious Campion School at Cooperage in Colaba, south Mumbai to THE Don Bosco High School in Panjim in 1970. I was just a child, forced to relocate from fast-and-furious Bombay where my dad practiced as an advocate to slow-and-sussegad Goa where nothing moved after 8 pm and where life in Panjim, Margao and Vasco died between 1 pm and 5 pm and after 8 pm.
But football was a different story. I played in the sub-juniors team of the Don Bosco Oratory, which was helmed by the late Fr Edward D’Souza in 1970 if my memory serves me right. We had a headmaster from Kerala named Fr Thomas Pamparel, SDB who was succeeded by Fr Benedict Furtado, SDB. There were Italian priests like Fr Casaroti, SDB Fr Joseph Casti, SDB, Fr John Giacomello, SDB and Goans like Fr Dennis Duarte.
Don Bosco always emerged as champions in the Subroto Mukherjee cup under-17 football tournament during the 1970s, because we had stalwarts like Armando Colaco, who later coached the Dempo Sports Club; his younger brother Daniel Colaco, called “Danush” who was my classmate, Armando Duarte nicknamed “Paklo” and an avid football player called Dionizio Trinidade who was in the same class as I was between the sixth and ninth standards, if I remember rightly.

ANOTHER stalwart was Irineu Gomes, called “Pandu” who was outstanding under the goalpost. He always played for the school football team and made fantastic saves during the Subroto Mukherjee cup football tournament. These football players were nicknamed as “zontes” because they were over aged for the class. They were not outstanding in studies but outstanding on the football field. After all, you cannot stand out in studies and also on the football field.
Now, St Anthony’s High School, Monte de Guirim, invariably emerged as the north zone champions whereas from the south zone, it was either Guardian Angel High School, Sanvordem, Loyola High School, Margao or some other school. Don Bosco High School, Panjim which sported blue and white jerseys invariably clashed with the red-and-orange jerseys worn by St Anthony’s High School, Monte de Guirim players at the Campal football grounds.
We had a coach called Wilson Paes who shifted from St Anthony’s High School, Monte de Guirim to Don Bosco High School at Panjim. Those who wanted to try out for the school football team had to do ten laps around our football field in Panjim and then shoot the ball from the centre of the field into the goalpost. It was quite tough. Those who made the cut were selected for the football team which saw stalwarts like Dionizio Trinidade.

TRINIDADE was in a class by himself because as 12-year-olds I remember playing an inter-class tournament, when he kicked the ball right on to my stomach which made me collapse in pain so that I had to be carried off shouting in agony. I was nowhere near these stalwarts on the football field and never made the cut for the school football team though I did play for the Oratory.
While my classmates like Wiseman Pinto, (now head of the Pathology department in Goa Medical College), Abel Rozario (elder brother of journalist Ashely do Rozario) and myself secured distinctions and first classes to join First Year Science in 1976 as the last batch of the old 11 + 4 year degree course, Dionizio Trinidade joined Dempo Sports Club, where he made his mark as a striker and later played for the Goa team. Even when playing for Don Bosco High School, his speed and footwork left the defense in shambles and he scored hat tricks for the school football team.
I remember Wilson Paes telling him in Konkani, “Dionizio cho shot samka lightning.” This was after he scored a brace against either the St Anthony or the Guardian Angel team at the Police football grounds in Panjim. Wilson Paes enjoyed his glass of feni during the monsoon after watching Dempo Sports Club down a rival football club. During the 1970s, Vasco Sports Club with their black and white jerseys were outstanding, while Dempo Sports Club, Salgaocar Sports Club and Sesa Goa Sports Club were all rivals. A well-known goal keeper was Sudheer for Vasco Sports Club who performed acrobatics under the bar to make outstanding saves.

DURING the 1970s, those of us who could not buy tickets for the Bandodkar Gold Cup to watch the clash of giants like Leaders Club, Jalandhar versus Salgaocar Sports Club, Goa which first ended in a 1-1 draw culiminating in a replay which was won by Leaders Club, Jalandhar because of their star striker, Inder Singh. As nine and ten year olds, we were glued to our transistors to hear the commentary and visualize the excitement on the football field — because television had not yet made its entry into India.
Vasco Sports Club emerged as the first Goan football team to win the Bandodkar trophy in 1971, but no team has come close to Dempo Sports Club which won eight titles till 1994, when the GFA realized it was not financially viable to stage the tournament without sponsors and falling gate collections. Without money, football will turn into a free-for-all you see.
The GFA revived the Bandodkar Gold Cup football tournament in 2016 after extricating the trophy from a bank vault in Mapusa. When analyzed, the contents of the trophy showed it was made out of 60 per cent copper, 29 per cent silver and only 11 per cent gold. There were allegations that the original trophy had been exchanged for a cheaper imitation by one of the teams which had won it. But those allegations and counter allegations must be left for another day.

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