Tiny Goa state may lead India's youth development

As India seeks the right method to groom football talent in order to realise its dream of qualifying for FIFA World Cup 2014, its small state of Goa appeared to be heading in the right direction when its youth team lifted the Manindra Dutta Ray Trophy in the National U-21 Championship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Guwahati recently. The champion side benefited from the support from professional clubs like Sporting Clube, Salgaocar SC, Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers, who sent their talented young recruits to represent the state, Amitabha Das Sharma reported for Sportstar.

Ask Savio Barreto, the coach-cum-manager of Goa, about this, and he promptly points out to the success of its multi-tier selection system that begins at the village level. "We have put in place the Professional League system a long time back. It has ensured that each team participating in the tournament appointed at least two players from the youth or the under-19 level," he told Sharma.

Goan Football Association Secretary Savio Messias made a special flight to get to the final. "His presence clearly underlined the importance that the GFA attaches to age-group events. In sharp contrast was the attitude of the tournament's patron, the All India Football Federation. It gave the championship a short shrift. Tournaments like these generally have observers and selectors from the national body, but in Guwahati none were visible," Sharma observed.

Final: Goa 2 (Milagres Gonzalves 35 - penalty, Gabriel Fernandez 85) bt Punjab 1 (Lalhalmtharamama 7). Semifinals: Punjab 2 (Baljit Singh Sahni 57, Satwant Singh 101) bt Assam 1 (Mintu Boro 30) in extra-time. Goa 2 (Kevin Lobo 77, Milagres Gonsalves 90+1) bt Bengal 0.