“The FIFA World Cup over the years has not just been a collective of the best, but an arena of change which can be seen through Qatar, where it is being proved beyond doubt that the tournament can be hosted anywhere in the world if the mind is open,” observed a jubilant sounding Caitano Fernandes, as Portugal fans could be overheard celebrating Portugal’s win over Uruguay.
“I think the game between Portugal and Uruguay would have ended differently had Suarez started the game. Suarez is a player who brings aggression to the game and that could have tilted the game,” was the opinion of Omkar Vaigankar, who was one of the many Goans to have gone to Qatar to participate in the FIFA World Cup.
“The best team wins most of the time, but what Qatar has shown to the world and, especially the West, is that football is not the exclusive domain of a few continents and that it has a spot in every corner of the world. I primarily came to this World Cup to see how we Asians are capable of hosting the World Cup, and I will be coming home proud,” added GFA President Caitano.
“I am in Qatar to support Germany and get a firsthand experience of what a World Cup is. Spain played well against Germany, but my heart will always be with Germany, irrespective of the result,” confessed Goa Badminton Association (GBA) President Narahar Thakur.
“The first half of the Germany and Spain match was closely fought with nothing to separate both teams. Both teams had fair chances, and Marco Arsenio of Spain looked in good form. While Spain created more chances, Germany was good on the counter-attack and all of us 68,500 spectators had a ball,” was Narahar’s way of summing up his experience of the Germany and Spain match he attended.
“I am a big fan of Manchester City, and one of the reasons I went to the World Cup was to see my club stars Bernado Silva, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo. They are part of the Portugal team and that is why my support for Portugal is so vociferous. Seeing Ronaldo was an amazing experience. I went to the ground one hour prior to the match just to see how they train. It is unbelievable to see what Ronaldo can do at the age of 37. Surely age is just a number,” surmises Omkar, who is one of the new faces in the GFA Executive Committee.
“I have always supported Italy, and unfortunately, Italy has not qualified for this World Cup. But being here is a learning experience that cannot be had in everyday life. World Cups make me dream of where our boys from Goa could reach if they dedicated as much as these players do. Obviously, we are not in the same boat and will take us years to be there, but we can at least start by dreaming,” avers Caitano.
“My wife Leonora and I are happy to be in Qatar for the World Cup because it is first an opportunity to witness a world event over so many days with our son Keith who works out here. Being Goan, our link to Portugal cannot be doubted. I attend matches in Portugal when I can and am here to see the country win the Cup,” writes Marcos dos Santos, who is a ganvkar of Pilerne.
“I have come to Qatar to see the best football. I may have a team that I hope wins the World Cup, but what is most important is to see the best football in the world live. Honestly, it does not matter who wins in the end, as long as I can witness top-class football with my own eyes,” says Sanjiv Nagvekar, the manager of Salgaocar FC, who is in Qatar along with some of his other colleagues from Goa.
“The best thing about this World Cup is the Qatar stadiums. It amazes me to see the infrastructure that they have built. It’s not just the stadiums, but the entire fan villages that they have built at different places for supporters of each country. Each village can accommodate around 40,000 people,” discloses Omkar, while narrating his experiences in the newly built cradle for football fans.
Fans of football, sports administrators, politicians and families have all flown to Qatar to feel the emotions of football not experienced by many in this part of the world. Not all feelings can be shared, especially feelings about football. But only once shared, the beauty of the game can be understood. This is the lesson being brought back home to Goa from Qatar.