BY ANTONIO BOTELHO
Most football followers in our state know that Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee Brahmanand Sankhwalker captained Goa to its first victories in the Senior National Football Championships – 1983 at Kolkatta and 1984 in Chennai.
What many don’t remember is that three years earlier, the Goa junior team won the first Men’s National Championship for Goa, scalping hosts Kerala 2-0 at Ernakulam.
The 1980 juniors were led by Derrick Pereira, but this is the story of that team’s goalkeeper Marcos (aka Mark) Mascarenhas, from Sarzora, who passed away on Wednesday, after battling cancer for months. A student of Mount Mary’s High School, he was born on April 23, 1963.
In 1980 began a series of extraordinary developments related to that champion junior Goa team.
The camp conducted at Vasco da Gama was a combined one for the under-19 BC Roy Trophy and an under-21 Udaipur tournament. The problem was that the only available goalkeeper was from the second category.
Coaches Visitacao Lobo and Socorro Coutinho alerted all their spotter contacts for an eligible goalkeeper without luck. Other GFA members were also looking for one. It was suggested to me, then GFA Secretary, that one Hermenigildo Soares from Chinchinim might be suitable.
I promptly called up Alberto Colaco who had good contacts in Salcete and told him to try and send the Chinchinim goalkeeper to the camp.
Marcos turned up to practice and, in Visitacao Lobo’s opinion, was better than the others who had trialled earlier. When he was asked for his details, it was found he was Marcos Mascarenhas and not Hermenigildo Soares.
A couple of days later, he turned up with Mauricio Afonso in tow and explained to Lobo that his mother would only allow him to go with the team if Mauricio accompanied him. Beggars are not choosers, and Mauricio was promptly dispatched with the Udaipur squad.
In the meantime, unused to the harsh conditions of camp life, three or four players quit, unbalancing Lobo’s team and fielding plans.
The U-19 team was to leave the night that the Udaipur squad returned. With the intercession of the late Vilas Sardessai, one striker, the late Baptist Fernandes, had returned to the camp.
But the U-19 squad was short of a stopper. Team manager Rene Costa was asked to go to the Margao Railway Station to intercept the late Baburao Kalangutkar and take him to Ernakulam.
Instead, Costa found that Baburao had got off at Londa and hitched a ride home to Assonora on a truck. And Costa was told by Vishnu Bandekar and Socorro Coutinho to take Mauricio Afonso instead as he had been outstanding.
Meanwhile, Sardessai managed to get hold of Baburao. So, the U-19 squad took in an additional player.
The rest is history. Goa won the Junior Nationals. Mark was dependable in all matches, particularly against Krishanu Dey’s Railways, beaten 3-2 by Goa in the quarterfinals.
Baburao and Baptist were outstanding, and after the Junior National were both selected to join the senior national AIFF camp. Mauricio, Derrick and Lector went on to become national players with Mauricio earning the distinction of being the first Goan to lead on the Indian senior side.
Several others were in Goa’s Santosh Trophy squads. A series of events triggered by a hunt for …Marcos the goalkeeper, whose passing away we all mourn today.
From Goa and clubs like Salcete FC and Salgaocar SC, Marcos moved on to the WIFA and the Central Railway team in Mumbai in 1985.
Throughout his playing career with Central Railway in Mumbai, he did not feel tempted to settle down in Urbs Prima in Indis, and he was a regular at the Sarzora khud.
Initially in a clerical position when he joined Central Railway, Marcos was later promoted to office superintendent at the Matunga Workshop establishment.
Irineu Vaz, paterfamilias to many a Goan player who represented the Central Railway football team, and a former goalkeeper himself, recalls fondly the excellent performances by Marcos in Mumbai. He took voluntary retirement in 2017.
Marcos married Agnes Mascarenhas, who stayed in Goa and continued teaching at Assumpta Convent High School, also in Sarzora. He has two sons, Earl and Astral. Earl was married in December 2022, while Astral is in the merchant navy.