Panaji, July 16 (IANS) Football crazy Goan expats are rooting for the state to host a mini non-resident Indian (NRI) football 'World Cup'.
The idea, which was first mooted in 2001 is now slowly finding supporters, especially among st the Goan community settled in the Middle East, which is aggressively backing the concept.
"Football holds great interest among expatriates in Kuwait. Qatar, Dubai and Bahrain and they also conduct proper league tournaments. Not too sure about the rest of the world, but for sure teams will participate as players who are taking their vacation during that time of the year will represent their countries," said Julio Cardozo, a Goan settled in Kuwait who is the chief promoter of the concept.
When Bruno Coutinho, a former captain of the Indian football team and now a bureaucrat with the state sports ministry, visited Kuwait last month, Cardazo, along with several other friends bounced the idea of Goa hosting a regular football World Cup for NRIs.
"When Bruno Coutinho was in Kuwait, I sounded him on this matter as I feel that with genuine support from SAG (Sports Authority of Go a), we could probably have a proper tournament in Goa," Cardozo said.
"Actually, a few years back, 2001 to be precise, a mini World Cup was organized in Goa and it was initiated by a friend from Goa. Team s from Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, Britain and Bahrain and a veteran's team representing India participated. It was a moderate success," Cardozo said, explaining how the concept was birthed.
What the expat community is now advocating is widening the scope and dimensions of the tourney in accordance with the expansion of the Goan diaspora to other countries.
"The concept would be to have NRI teams participat ing from the USA, Canada, Britain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Dubai, among others, in a league-cum-knock-out tournament in December-end or January-beginning. Invitations would have to be sent to the prominent associations representing Goans in these countries. SAG would have to support in terms
of grounds and referees. Some funds from the Government would also help," Cardozo said.
"If the rules and regulations are clear and the invitations go out from the Goa government, the tournament can be a huge success. Important matters, like who is an NRI, would have to be considered, as I remember the last time there was some cheating with teams fielding players based in Goa who originally worked in the Gulf," he further said.
Coutinho said the idea was certainly worth considering, but added that executing it would not be a walk in the park.
"Yes, I am thinking about it. It can be made possible. But it will not be like a picnic. It will need a lot of work," Coutinho told IANS.
Football gets the better of cricket in soccer crazy Goa, which has had several teams like the Dempo Sports Club, Salgaocar Sports Club and Churchill Brothers top the national football league championship s. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has recently declared football a state sport.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)