BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Pele once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. Everything is practice.”
These words of Pele resonated as the news of Vasco United FC’s promotion to the Goa Football Association (GFA) second division on their debut in the Third Division trickled in.
Being promoted on debut is quite an achievement because it does not happen often. And, it is an even greater achievement when every one of the players from the team is under twenty years of age and from one zone.
Vasco United FC’s win is not just a salute to the way football in Goa is going but a reason to be proud of the intentions of Derrick Pereira, who has impressed as a player, impressed as a family man and impressed as a coach. And now, he is spreading his wings to make men out of boys on the football field through Vasco United FC.
To newcomers, Derrick was a concoction of skill, intelligence and someone who worked hard to obtain victory for his team. In his prime, he was one of those players who had fans travelling great distances to see him play.
He was a central defender who scored goals when his team most needed him to, and one of those goals was during the Federation Cup semi-finals against Mohun Bagan in Bangalore. Salgaocar was down by a goal and needed an equaliser from Derrick to get back into play.
Unlike many central defenders, Derrick did not have the build, but he made up for it with his intelligence. It is the same intelligence that has made him what he is today – expressing his love for football by helping produce quality players.
Derrick represented India from approximately 1984 to 1991, and whenever he has the chance, he left the mark of a player possessed of a skill that was constantly harnessed by his intelligence.
Therefore, it would be no prejudice to anyone to say that Derrick was one of those few players whose IQ was well above the average.
Many years ago, when Derrick was coaching Vasco SC, his team was losing badly during the lemon break with players looking out of sorts. The players trooped in for the lemon break and Derrick followed them.
There was a crash in the room. Derrick spoke in a loud tone, alien to him, with the players, and the room was silent for the rest of the breather. That evening, the team that played the first half with no chance of winning, finished the game sharing points with the opponents.
That was, is and will be Derrick Pereira for football. Everyone wants to win, but there are few who realise that constant hard work produces winners, and, therefore, consistency in hard work is the foundation on which his wins are borne.
As a player, Derrick was one of the greatest Goa had. As a coach, he is one of the greatest – at least so far – Goa has had, and it will not be too long before he finishes as the man born with a ball that he kept rolling until the youngsters were mature enough to roll it themselves.
Derrick has been the brain behind FC Goa’s youth development for many years, and the club was rightly awarded for the best youth development setup of the country in the recently concluded Indian Super League (ISL).
Derrick always believed that competition is what is most required for players to develop, and therefore, he is one of the few who emphasises competition at all levels of football, and by that, he does not mean one or two games, but as many as possible.
Vasco United FC’s promotion to the second division on Monday is a result of Derricks's love for football; his vision to get the boys from his native place, which has produced a great number of international football players before, back to the forefront.
It is nice to see that at sixty-one, the desire to see football at its best is still burning in Derrick. From the late seventies and early eighties, there was Antonio Botelho, who gave to football, expecting nothing back but great moments on the football field.
Almost forty years down the line, Botelho will probably be happy to see that a player who grew up watching him play, is now effortlessly slipping into his shoes. Vasco United FC is just the beginning.
If Derrick does not give up at the halfway mark, as he did when he coached Vasco SC, the best is yet to come for football in Goa, because he has always proved to be a winner. And this time, winners will be produced by a winner on the field.