Over the years, FC Goa has won admirers far beyond the borders of Goa with its attractive brand of Indian Super League (ISL) football which has kept everyone entertained. The West Indian club have further boosted their credibility over the past few years by bringing a number of talented youngsters from the state through the ranks while maintaining their eye-catching style of play.
The Gaurs are among the leading clubs in India when it comes to youth development and the reasons for this go beyond a strong youth structure at the club which is led by Technical Director Derrick Pereira. The club, through the Forca Goa Foundation, is continuously exploring the depths of grassroots football in the state with a strong platform in the form of the Little Gaurs League (LGL), a broad football league for youth who has already completed three seasons.
In the recently concluded 2021-22 edition, a total of 91 different teams and 744 children participated in four different age categories – U-6, U-8, U-10 and U-12 categories with the exception of a U-12 girls-only category. The league also held mixed team matches to promote gender equality.
LGL was conducted at three venues in the state: Sinquetim Sports Complex in Navelim, Rose Arena in Vasco and Monte de Guirim Ground in Mapusa to make it accessible to children from all parts of Goa. “The League is one of the key strategies of FC Goa in the development of footballers, increasing the playing time of young players helps to hone their decision-making ability and match skills,” reads the statement. mission statement of the LGL.
While the aim was to provide a safe environment to play football and create a pathway for children to play for FC Goa, there have been some notable successes that the league’s third division has delivered. Piyush Sawant’s goalscoring exploits for his Goan Champs team landed him a contract with FC Goa U-13 side. He then took part in the inaugural JSW U-13 Youth Cup in Bellary where FC Goa faced Bengaluru FC, RoundGlass Punjab FC and Sudeva Delhi FC in a four-team tournament.
“FC Goa aims to be a football club where the first team is an essential part of the project but not its entirety. One of our long-term ambitions is to build on the culture of football in the state. And this cannot be done without involving the whole community,” said FC Goa technical director Derrick Pereira. “Development at grassroots level is very important for Goa to continue to be a footballing hub. Exposure to football at a young age is key to developing quality players for tomorrow. The Little Gaurs League is one of these initiatives of Forca Goa Foundation and FC Goa as it provides a good platform for children to express themselves and develop their abilities from an early age,” he added.
In another first, Valaina Fernandes, who became the top scorer in the U-12 category, had the chance to train with the FC Goa women’s team. “This year we managed to improve the playing infrastructure and give more playing time (two-legged matches compared to single rounds before) so that children and coaches can develop,” said Nathaniel D ‘Costa, Senior Director of Forca Goa Foundation Community. Soccer.
“Coming back to the game after a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus was always going to be fraught with challenges, but with the support of the club, our sponsor Tata Motors and the GFA, we managed to register 91 teams with 745 kids. ,” he added. The fourth edition of the youth league is expected to be held in November 2022. (ANI)
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