Not a single player from Goa has made it to the Indian football team that has made it to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup by default, even as senior players and coaches attribute this to a lack of organised football in the State.
“More clubs should be involved in women’s football and there should be a residential academy for girls where training is imparted. As of now, clubs get together players for a few days to play for a league and then it is back to normal life for the girls,” thinks Michelle Castanha who plays for the senior Indian women’s team.
“Football is my passion. I have been able to play for India because I go out to practice with the boys and I do my own workouts to keep myself fit. If I do not play every day, I feel something amiss,” explains Michelle who has represented Sethu FC and will be playing for Gokulam Kerala FC this season in the national league.
Michelle, who plays as a midfielder and at times doubles up as a defender, and striker Karishma Shirvoikar have been two players who have stood out in the Goa women’s league conducted by Goa Football Association (GFA) since 2018.
I don’t think there is a future for women’s football in Goa. There is no structure in place where we can practice or play regularly. I am happy to be part of the Goan team for the National Games and I owe my success to my coach Juliet
Prithi Kesraker, goalkeeper
“The GFA league should be more competitive. There should be more matches and the practice of clubs getting girls together just to play for the league should be stopped. Clubs today pick up players for the league and are not interested in signing girls just like they do for boys in their junior teams,” believes Juliet Miranda, A license coach from Goa.
“I don’t think there is a future for women’s football in Goa. There is no structure in place where we can practice or play regularly. I am happy to be part of the Goan team for the National Games and I owe my success to my coach Juliet," says goalkeeper Prithi Kesraker.
Karishma Shirvoikar is a striker feared by most opponents for her ability to wean her way to the goal and score. “I am happy to have been able to play for Gokulam FC for two seasons but I think playing out of state is not everything. There should be a proper football structure in Goa so that all girls who are interested in football can benefit,” avers Karishma.
“By hosting the league, GFA has given us a window to perform at the national stage that has given us a chance to play for India or be selected by other teams. This exposure is just a step forward. A lot more constructive steps are needed,” rues Karishma.
“The SAG has fourteen coaches that look after boys and girls. It has coaches looking after girls' schools and these players later participate in different Department of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA) tournaments,” stated Director of coaching and Arjuna awardee Bruno Coutinho.
Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) adopts girls in its different centres in Goa and hosts baby league matches. However, the ladder of succession is limited with the girls unable to get themselves attached to any team after passing out from school.
“I agree that a lot needs to be done for women’s football in Goa. Apart from having a league, we are thinking of sending teams from Goa or selecting good players and sending them as a team to participate in outstation tournaments,” stated Caitan Fernandes, executive member of GFDC and aspirant for the title of GFA president.