Jogo Bonito: 60 years after the formation of the Goa Football Association, the state's link with the game remains inseparable

It didn't take long for Lieutenant Joao Luis Aranha to realize that the Goans loved their football more than anything else and would even pay to see their favorites play.

This was in 1959 when Karachi Port Trust, a team from neighboring Pakistan, showed up at Goa and played two friendlies, the second of which Goa Selection won by a lone goal against 15,000 spectators, most attending a game before Liberation. .

Aranha began lobbying with the government to obtain permission to form an autonomous body that would manage football affairs in Goa. He presented an interesting argument that convinced Portugal to make Goa the first and only colony to receive this special privilege.

“The main argument was that football was extremely popular in Goa. The state also had large open spaces, which could easily become stadiums and soccer fields, and the general public would pay money to watch football matches. This argument sat well with a virtually bankrupt government in Portugal, which was struggling to balance the budget in its colonies, says the official publication of (GFA), 'The grass is green in Goa', published to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the association in 1999

Before the formation of the GFA on December 22, 1959, the sport was governed by the Associacao de Futebol da India Portuguesa (AFIP) from 1939 to 1949 and then by the Conselho de Desportos in 1951. But it is Portugal's decision to grant Goa east special privilege that launched the.

Aranha, of course, was named as the first president of the GFA and the Primeira Divisao (First Division), started in 1951, obtained a new life opportunity. Almost everything changed: reflector matches were introduced, infrastructure was improved, players were expected to register for the first time in a single club, and the well-known European identity system also saw the light of day.

The Portuguese were finally expelled two years later and Aranha, who served as president of the GFA for three periods of one year each, was one of those who packed his bags.

“It was not easy at the time of the colonial government to separate the fraternity of football from the rest of Goa's sports life, since all directions of sports policy were issued from Lisbon and were the same for all colonies. But we achieved, thanks to great enthusiasm, a total surrender to the cause of Goa football and a unity of effort, of which I am very proud to be a part, said Aranha, in one of his documented messages to the GFA.

Aranha's departure saw Dr. Gustavo Monteiro take over the association in 1962, and since then Goa football has had little reason to look back.

From a hobby in the old days when people crowded their land for their only entertainment, football is now a full-fledged industry where clubs buy or sell players. As Aranha had told Portuguese officials, fans don't mind rummaging through their pockets to pay for tickets.

The change in Goa's attitude towards football occurred in the mid-1960s when companies began to invest in football, although it was largely an exercise in community development. Clube de Desportos de Vasco da Gama, the first of all, was launched in 1951, while Salgaocar SC (1956), Sesa Goa (1965) and Dempo-Souza SC (1967) followed.

At first, it was Vasco who led the charge of the Goa soccer brigade out of state until Salgaocar took over the mantle. Dempo was the first Goa club to win in 1975, while Salgaocar set a national record between 1988 and 1991 when he reached four consecutive finals of the Federation Cup, winning two of them.

Over the years, we have had a surprising group of players that could be among the best in the country, says Brahmanand Shankhwalkar, first winner of the Goa Arjuna Prize.

Brahmanand himself has been the greatest of all. There are also others, Mauricio Afonso, Bruno Coutinho and Climax Lawrence, to name a few, who led the country several times with distinction. But while players and officials have played their roles perfectly, the ubiquitous fan continues in the heart of O Jogo Bonito (The Beautiful Game) in Goa.