FC Goa creating the next generation of footballers in the football mad state of Goa…
One of Salgaocar FC’s greats and former India international, Derrick Pereira, is the technical director and is in charge of club’s youth development since the last three years.
“When I joined three years back, we started from the age groups of U-14, U-16, U-18, U-20 and the dev (developmental) team. In the first year, the U-18 and the develepmental team trained together before we separated the devlelopmental team from the U-18 from the next year. So we kept on improving our structure along with our coaching staff,” Pereira informed Goal.
“Now, in the third year, we started our grassroots leagues (Little Gaurs Leagues) through the Forca Goa foundation for U-6, U-8 and U-10 kids to build the football culture from an early age,” he added.
The developmental team or B team, where Goan talent is promoted, has produced players like Liston Colaco, Princeton Rebello, Mohammad Nawaz and Saviour Gama despite them starting their youth careers elsewhere.
Detailing how the efforts have paid off, Pereira explained that players like Sweden Fernandes, Dylan D’Silva and Lesly Rebello made it through to FC Goa’s B team in the last three years. They won the 2018-19 Goa Pro League in just their second year in the competition and were unbeaten in the 2019 Durand Cup besides emerging triumphant in both the U-20 Taca Goa and the Police Cup in 2019. Clifford Miranda, who later found himself as interim manager of the senior team towards the end of the ISL season 6, was in charge of this batch.
The U-15 side participated in the Next Gen Cup 2020 in Mumbai under the guidance of coach Presley Pereira, while the U-18 outfit – led by coach Gavin Araujo – recently qualified for the final round of the AIFF Elite League.
The focus is mostly on local players for the U-14 and U-16 teams but a few players from other states have also shown interest in the club’s U-18 sides. Pereira stressed that FC Goa bears in mind the educational requirements of the kids enrolled with them.
“Right now, we don’t have a residential academy but we have set short term and long terms plans,” he mentioned. “The short term plan is to scout players from other teams, mostly from Goa. We look at other places (states) also. We have a residential facility only for the developmental team and some of the U-18 boys and we see that education is taken care of for the outstation players.”
Thanks to the good work done in their youth teams, Goa have promoted some players to their senior squad next season. Development team skipper and defender Leander D’Cunha, left full-back Sarineo Fernandes, midfielder Flan Gomes and the forward duo of Aaren D’Silva and Lalawmpuia will be part of Juan Ferrando’s squad next season.
“We selected players for every team three years ago and right now we have our own grassroots programme. We had the Centre of Excellence program for U-10 and U-12 categories from where we selected players for our U-14 team. So this year we have promoted a lot of players from the U-14 to U-16, U-16 to U-18 and from U-18 to the development team. So there are players who are promising and ready to make the break, whom we promote to the next level,” Pereira observed.
“In the future, we plan to loan out players. For example, if we have two-or-three players in a particular position and either of them may not get an opportunity to play, we loan or transfer them out to other teams to make sure they get enough playing time. We want our players to develop at teams who play our style of football, which will help develop our players.”
Pereira also revealed that FC Goa’s modus operandi when it comes to the development team is not only limited to developing football talent and skill.
“Our focus is on development than results. We follow a system and style which will help players to improve their talent and skills. We have training sessions day in and day out. Like for U-14 and U-16 age groups, we have four sessions a week considering that they have to give time for their education as well.
“Similarly, the U-18 team trains five times a week and the development team regularly like the first team/ But we take into consideration education and other aspects of their life. We look at developing players overall – footballing skills as well as to build their character. In football, discipline is very important, may it be in football or in their private life,” he concluded.