The jubilant Dempo SC team after qualifying for I-League.
The jubilant Dempo SC team after qualifying for I-League.Photo: DSC Media

Dempo SC earns its place in I-League

Seven years after withdrawing from I-League, Dempo qualifies for it again and eyes a spot in the ISL

“This decision (of withdrawing from the I-League) does not, of course, preclude our option to re-enter the I-League or any new competition introduced by the AIFF/I-League in coming times,” wrote Dempo Sports Club owner, Shrinivas Dempo, in a letter to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) secretary Kushal Das on December 7, 2016.

Seven years, four months and twenty days later, Dempo Sports Club has earned its place in the I-League and, by doing so, is clearing the clogged up football ecosystem in Goa.

Dempo SC owner, Shrinivas Dempo, with a pragmatic vision for football ecosystem.
Dempo SC owner, Shrinivas Dempo, with a pragmatic vision for football ecosystem.Photo: DSC Media

“When we withdrew from the I-League, we spent around Rs 15 crore on the team,” said Shrinivas Dempo, as Goa is in deliriums over the news of the team's qualification that has spread quickly.

"The idea is to work on a model where emphasis is balanced between the academy and the team,” said Dempo.

The jubilant Dempo SC team after qualifying for I-League.
Galgibaga in South Goa echoes with the sounds of nature

“The idea is to qualify for the ISL in around five years, and I am happy that my boys earned an entry to the I-league through hard work, we should now not remove our foot from this pedal,” admitted Dempo, whilst explaining the aspirations for the future.

SC Bengaluru United and Dempo Sports Club qualified for the 2024-25 I-League with the latter scoring 20 goals in all, and conceding 19.

Dempo SC becomes the second team from Goa in the league, Churchill Brothers being the other.

Coach Samir Naik hailed as a hero by his boys.
Coach Samir Naik hailed as a hero by his boys. Photo: DSC Media

“The I-League is not our destination. We have to win the Indian Super League (ISL) and qualify for the Champions League,” said coach Samir Naik after the match.

“The secret is in living as a family. I am one of them,” added a jubilant Naik.

After a prolific tenure as player, Samir Naik took over as coach five seasons ago. The team finished as runners up of the Goa Professional League (GPL) in the first two years; winners in the next two, and qualified for the I-League in the fifth.

The jubilant Dempo SC team after qualifying for I-League.
Top 5 beaches in Goa for a relaxing vacation

“We have to be realistic. We qualified by finishing second, and we have to build on that. We have to make plans for the next three to four years, instead of just thinking about the next season,” explained Pradhyum Reddy, former ISL coach and now, CEO of the club.

“We were not getting eyeballs for our players in the academy before. Now, that we have qualified, this is our time to showcase the players we are producing to the rest of the country,” reasoned Reddy.

Team goalkeeping coach, Richard Sanchez, being given the bumps for his dedication.
Team goalkeeping coach, Richard Sanchez, being given the bumps for his dedication. Photo: DSC Media

“We have built upon our experiences from the last season, and managed to get the right balance between players from our academy and outstation players. Credit to Bengaluru because they were better than us,” admitted Reddy.

Dempo Sports Club played with six outstation players this season – two from Kolkata, two from Manipur and two from Shillong. From these, four were regular starters, whilst the rest were local talent.

The jubilant Dempo SC team after qualifying for I-League.
Why choose village life in Goa?

Dempo SC qualified from the I-League 3 after winning the last game by an odd goal in three against Kick Start Bengaluru 2-1 and defeating Sudeva Delhi 3-1 in their last game of I-League 2.

“The team will be recruiting foreign players for the I-League, but that does not indicate that we are going to be splurging. The emphasis is to be on a cost effective mode,” explained Dempo.

My God, I do not know how to describe what I am feeling. I am happy my club has qualified to the place where it should be. We are the best team in India, and I am happy we are moving in that direction

Nicholas Pereira, former Dempo SC player

“My God, I do not know how to describe what I am feeling. I am happy my club has qualified to the place where it should be. We ar,e the best team in India and I am happy we are moving in that direction,” stated former Dempo SC great and international player, Nicholas Pereira.

“Dempo’s qualification reinforces the signals that Goan football is on the come-back trail. There is a lot of work ahead to reach the ISL, but the team can reach the desired level,” reflected former Dempo SC general secretary, Antonio Bothelo.

Your Gateway to Goa, India

The Gomantak Times app is the best way to stay informed on anything happening in Goa. From breaking news to the top 10 restaurants to visit, GT helps you navigate your time in Goa.

Download the Gomantak Times app on your Android or IOS device.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Goa News in English on Gomantak Times
www.gomantaktimes.com