BY FR CARLOS LUIS SAC
Joshua Stan Vaz was recently appointed All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) futsal head coach for the AFC Asian Cup. It was his dream since his younger years.
Reacting to the appointment, he said, “I always dreamt of playing this wonderful game at the highest level. But, due to a lot of external reasons, it wasn’t possible. I firmly believe that God has a great plan for us all. This is my time to be the head coach of the national team, and I couldn’t be more happy, grateful and overjoyed.”
Joshua is an MBA graduate with an AFC C licence in football and is the only person with an AFC Futsal Coaching Certificate - Level 2 in India.
Interestingly, his father, Socorro George Vaz, played for Vasco SC in the 70s and was a coach in the early 2000s.
Joshua trained himself in Portugal at the club Vitória de Guimarães and played for the top clubs in Goa like Dempo SC, Santa Cruz Club of Cavelossim, Goa Velha SC and Churchill Brothers SC.
He was also a part of the I-League with Churchill Brothers in the 2017-18 season. He started playing futsal only in the year 2011. Joshua has a club called LA Masia and runs the Youth Futsal Academy, Goa, established by his father in the year 2012.
Joshua’s biggest inspiration to become involved with futsal for 12 years has been his father.
He says, “My father knew that someday futsal would be a great sport, even when it was not recognised. He was one of the first in India to complete his level 1 course in 2011, after which he started the academy in 2012.”
Joshua hails Savio Madeira as his mentor, who guided him throughout his growth as a coach educator.
He also has words of praise for Dr Shahabeddin Sofalmanesh and Chiew Chun Yong, both AFC elite futsal instructors who have guided him on this journey.
Joshua spoke of discipline and empathy as two essential qualities of a successful coach. He said, “Without discipline, progress is always hindered and one cannot give his 100%. But with it, I think a lot is possible."
He also said, "Empathy – because if a coach is not a good listener, it will be difficult to have good communication between players. A coach should lead by example and if they expect the team to be doing things right, you got to show them you care and are part of it along with them!”
Further stating the strengths and weaknesses of being a coach, he said, “The greatest strength is the ability to lead and mould a team with correct knowledge and techniques of the game. Management is very essential. A coach can make or break a team!”
Joshua does a great deal of match analysis for which he watches futsal games.
He updates himself by reading about the most recent developments in the field, speaking to his mentors and learning from them, and attending courses and workshops.
His aim as futsal head coach, therefore, stems from that vast experience.
He says, “My aim is obviously, to qualify for the 2024 AFC Futsal Asian Cup. But in that process, I want to be an instrument in cultivating the right skill and tactic for this beautiful fast-paced game for my team. I want them to learn more about life with a ball at their feet and for people to take notice of India in futsal.”
In teaching skills to his players, Joshua’s mind works like a computer. He plans his daily sessions much in advance.
Explicating his process of coaching a player, he said, “I like to focus on tactic, technique and skill. In futsal, every player has to learn to play all positions, and it’s a very fast-paced game. Therefore, my players have to be prepared with their next move before the first one occurs.”
He continues, saying, “I like when players are intelligent and can perceive what comes next as soon as they start. That is what I train them to be. Step by step teaching each aspect of the game individually before going into the match situation.”
Josep "Pep" Guardiola Sala, a Spanish professional football manager, currently Manchester City manager and former player, is Joshua’s favourite.
He said, “Pep has a clear way of interpreting the game and is always trying to control the game. Dominating the games interests him a lot. He wants to dominate and not wait for things to happen. This makes him a little special and that is what I like about him.”
Being a coach comes with a lot of responsibilities on one’s shoulders.
In this regard, Joshua said, “Being the coach of a national team is just a whole different ball game! The fact that the entire nation has its eyes on you makes it even more stressful. But I plan on just being myself, not being influenced by external forces, to focus on my principles and not waiver from my beliefs.”
Many times we see parents discouraging their children from making sports their career, believing it doesn’t have a future.
Joshua recommends giving sports a shot, saying, “Every parent has a perspective of how they want to bring up their children. But sport is the most integral part of a human being's development. It fosters physical, mental and emotional well-being. A sport is not just a game, it will teach one how to live life.”
“If you have good mentors and coaches, you are surely on the right path to reaching greatness. When it comes to having a future, my mother and father pushed me to complete my education at any cost, and I am grateful for that. Formal education is of utmost importance. Both can be done simultaneously. I know because I did it that way!” he went on to say.
Encouraging young footballers, Joshua said, “Failure is only a part of life. If you have failed today, look forward to tomorrow and the future. That future might take years to come, but it will, one day.”
Joshua is ever grateful to his parents for letting him grow in what he loved to do ie football and futsal, especially his mother, Debbie Vaz, who sacrificed a lot of her life.
He feels indebted to his supportive wife, Roselle, who has pulled him through good and bad times as a player in the past and now as a coach.
And his brother Charlton Vaz, whose brain is the same as his, and he can always bounce ideas off him, and his sister-in-law, Lara, a physiotherapist who helps concerning players’ injuries.
He is also filled with gratitude for his in-laws who are supportive in taking care of his dog Ceasar when he is on the move. And, lastly, all those back home who take care of his most precious son Logan Joy.
Without all these incredible people he feels it would be impossible for him to be where he is today.
(Carlos Luis is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and is currently studying for a licentiate degree in Moral Theology. He comments on social and moral issues.)