Goa lacks sports culture and the Government of Goa needs to spend more to make it attractive was the moot theme at the end of the Sportstar conclave held in the State.
In short players, coaches and members representing sports associations tried to point fingers at lack of finance to justify the gloom that pervades most sports in Goa.
On the bright side, government officials present, including Sports Minister Govind Gaude and Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte – his presence added a different texture to sports – rubbed shoulders to dissect the roadmap for sports in Goa and the end result was of hope sprinkled on gloom.
Sports stars are born and not created. If not nurtured at birth, they die a steady death and therefore spotting talent, for it to be nurtured, is the basis of growth and hence the emphasis on grassroots.
Football was declared the official sport of Goa and despite the emphasis on infrastructure, Goa’s performance during the recently-concluded 37th National Games was a disaster.
Yet, during the conclave GFA president Caitano Fernandes had the temerity to say, “The government disbursed only Rs 12.5 lakh from the Rs 6 crore promised,” when in reality the story is different.
In the last budget, the Chief Minister had earmarked Rs 6 crore for the Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) and the GFA had received Rs 68,24,400 from the sanctioned Rs 85,30,500 for the residential camp before the 37th National Games.
If the GFA cut a sorry picture by trying to push the onus on the government for lack of funds, Goa Cricket association (GCA) – that is awash with funds from BCCI – put its eggs on a basket of need for grounds and cooperation from the government for permission to build an international cricket stadium.
“We have got land in Pernem for an international stadium and we hope to get the necessary permission from the government to build one,” stated Goa Cricket Association (GCA) president Vipul Phadke whilst emphasizing that the lack of grounds is hampering the growth of the game.
“The idea of the conclave is to get all the stakeholders together to discuss so as to get an understanding and thereafter prepare a white paper on how to develop sports and present it to the government,” stated Ayon Sengupta Editor of Sportstar.
“If sports start making money through tourism that money goes back into sports,” is how Sengupta justified the link between sports and tourism during the conclave.
Sports in Goa, and football in particular, have breathed through the passion of corporates for the last 60 odd years when the concept of CSR was not even coined.
“We have spent Rs 20 crore on our academy already with no returns. The idea to make money is for the academy to be able to sustain itself,” confessed Shrinivas Dempo, chairman of Dempo Group.
“If any sport has a proposal on how we can help, they should feel free to approach us as no boundaries are set on which sport to help,” disclosed Sagar Salgaocar, MD of Geno Pharmaceuticals clearing minds that companies were only supporting football and cricket.
The general idea created during the conclave was that after the 37th National Games, Goa has international standard infrastructure for sportspeople to avail. The reality is, some sports have and many don’t because the games were conducted in makeshift facilities – only equipment is available.
Khaunte painted a rosy picture of how the ironman and other competitions like UTT and beach volleyball have posted Goa as an international destination but there were no answers on how the sport people will stand to benefit.
At the end, it was evident that there needs to be much introspection by sportspeople, sports administrators and the government of what they really expect from sports and when they do, if the direction they are taking is the right one.