The Club wants football, empowerment and sustainability to go hand in hand, which means taking the game of football to youngsters and empowering to sustain Goa and make people aware of destruction of the ecology. The organisation wants to create a holistic plan of development that benefits both the game and the fans and believes that kids who are given the opportunity to engage with the club’s grassroots programmes can become active community leaders, and in turn help co-create a more sustainable future for Goa. NESHWIN ALMEIDA reports
While FC Goa ventures into Season IV of the Indian Super League (ISL), hosted by IMG Reliance and the All India Football Federation, the club’s corporate social responsibility has envisaged a well-conceived ‘give back to Goa’ plan.
The Club’s good performance since 2014, of semi-finals and finals appearance in the ISL and some glorious moments on field is now clubbed with philanthropy on and off the field, to make a difference across Goa.
Speaking on the sidelines of a community development football festival at The King’s School, Força Goa Managing Director Jill Ferguson, asserted that the Club wants football, empowerment and sustainability to go hand in hand, which means taking the game of football to youngsters and empowering to sustain Goa and make people aware of destruction of the ecology.
Jill informs that Força Goa maintains the ISL charter of taking football to the youth, while maintaining youth development academies and teams at an under-10 to under-19 level.
“This game came to Goa centuries ago but despite football being a part of Goa’s culture, we don’t see Goan players representing the nation in the senior team or even in the under-17 and under-19. One of our primary objectives is to encourage Goans to take up football and make it a career and pursue it as a player, coach, and referee or through any other sphere, explains Nathan D Costa, Community manager at the Força Goa Academy.
Using Football to inspire, the organization has collaborated with several NGOs and individuals and encouraged youngsters to attend football camps, clean beaches, localities in north Goa, carry out awareness programmes etc. Força Goa has now been identifying school and higher secondary students to be ambassadors in their villages and towns across Goa to cover and report their locality.
Jill believes that Força Goa goes on to create a shared vision across the entire football community and will also allow the empowerment of a greater Goan community, to address various issues in Goa, including those that fall outside of the purview of the game of football.
The legendary Indian footballer and assistant coach of the Development Team Clifford Miranda believes that football is a game that helps uplift many individuals and their families across the globe and Goa needs to inculcate a football culture, so that parents are encouraged to allow their children to venture into sports. FC Goa, a professional Goan football franchise in the ISL that conceptualised and created the Força Goa Foundation along with its Chairman Jaydev Mody and President Akshay Tandon.
Looking to bringing various stakeholders, including the governing bodies, football clubs, NGOs and citizens, Força Goa hopes to tap into the growing reach of the sport to bring about positive change and growth to Goa.
To do this the club has hired local coaches, Goa’s very own former FIFA referee Benjamin Silva and former Indian footballer Orlando Viegas.
Orlando, one of the well-known Indian footballers based in Dubai, has relocated with his new assignment as grassroots development director with Força Goa, with twelve coaches reporting directly to him.
“One of the main objectives of the Força Goa grassroots development programme is to create a base of young players who can play for FC Goa in the long run,” Viegas underlined, as he watched young footballers in action.
Força Goa extensively works with children from schools in Verna, Rivona and other places.
“Força Goa is about using the beautiful game of football as an unifying force to empower and help the greater Goan community. We want to create a holistic plan of development that benefits both the game and our fans. We believe that kids who are given the opportunity to engage with our grassroots programmes can become active community leaders, and in turn help co-create a more sustainable future for Goa.” Jill emphasised.
Tasked with the formidable responsibility of not only reviving Goa’s age-old passion for football, but also social development, Força Goa will focus on developing grassroots programmes for boys and girls aged 6 to 12 years, while also developing a youth programme for the 13 to 18 year olds. The success of the Junior Gaurs League has proven for this to be a great approach.
Simultaneously, Força Goa will also deploy FC Goa’s media partnerships and fan engagement to highlight important community issues such as waste management, women’s empowerment, sustainable development, etc and promote change makers that are working tirelessly towards similar goals.
Força Goa’s initiatives currently include working in schools with children under 6 to 12 years of age and those in the age group of 13 to 18, running its own Academy FC Goa wherein youngsters in football are trained and provided state of the art residential facilities at Margao near the training facility. The Academy will offer the best training facilities, coaches, and educational support to ensure these kids have the best chance of going pro one day. While coaches and employees of the Força Goa Foundation have been encouraged to take up coaching certification in tie-up with EPL and British Council, besides creating better working conditions as well as more trainings for referees.