I’ve been spending a whole lot of time in Goa lately unfortunately not on the beach but crouched over my laptop in hotel conference rooms and offices. That said, I do have one highlight from one of my recent Goa trips which is worth sharing as I’m sure the 10 followers of this blog have no interest in hearing about all of the different types of sea creatures I consumed in between marathon sessions working on business plans. This highlight was attending Salgaocar FC’s community coaching program.
Over the past few years of living in India I’ve visited most I-League clubs and although I’ve been impressed with the passion, commitment and resilience exhibited by many of the club’s key management, I haven’t been too overly impressed with their quality of community outreach programming especially when clubs are spending $2 - $3 million a year on player salaries. That being said, I can confidently say that Salgaocar FC stands apart in this area.
I experienced something special that Sunday afternoon at Chicalim Village Ground which is located just outside of Vasco. There I experienced about 250 young boys and girls all proudly wearing full Salgaocar FC kits neatly organized in six (6) different pitches where they were getting trained by players on Salgaocar FC’s first team. And this wasn’t “check off the box training by the reserves” this was legitimate coaching by some of the country’s top footballers, one of them being striker Darryl Duffy who was playing in the English first division not long ago.
I’m glad that I attended this program as it restored my faith in the I-League as a vehicle to support communities. I must also give thanks and a special mention to the Swati Salgaocar and Elaine Colaco who are the hearts, minds and driving force behind this great program.