AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT
As the rains played havoc in most parts of Goa and reached its nadir on August 5 – with life being thrown out of gear for almost three days – the game of football could not keep its fans indoors. Despite torrential downpours and gusty winds during the highest recorded rains in Goa on August 5, 6 and 7, not a single inter village tournament or school tournament scheduled was postponed.
“Not a single inter village or Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA) football match was postponed during the days when it rained heavily. A match can be stopped or not started only in case of lightning, thunder or rough winds. The conditions were not so bad,” stated Goa Football Association (GFA) South Goa in charge of referees Joaquim Manuel D’silva.
“A referee can stop the game if the ball floats in water or when the ground becomes flooded. Otherwise, the game goes on,” added Joaquim.
The sentiments of Joaquim were echoed by Gregory Estoricio who handles the appointments of all football referees in North Goa. “All games went on schedule. There was no intimation from any team or official that he could not reach the ground,” said Gregory.
Despite heavy rains on August 5, the final of 36th Custodio Memorial Tournament in Raia was largely attended. “Rain does not make a difference. It rained much more ten years back and there was a crowd and we were sure that there would have been a crowd this time too,” said Cosme Oliveira, secretary of Raia Sporting, organisers of the 36th edition of the tournament. “Football is a game that attracts all sorts of people. People come to the tournament and go home wet. It does not matter because football gives a special joy to people. I am sure many would have stayed inside if it was any other function,” added Cosme.
“When you love football it does not matter whether there is sun or rain. You want to play with the ball and rain is normally not a barrier to play. A player does not really feel the cold when playing in the rain as his body gets warm playing. The only thing a player needs to know when playing in the rain is when to scoop the ball to shoot and when to let the ball roll on the ground. It depends on how wet the ground is,” said Arjuna awardee Bruno Coutinho.
“If one road is flooded or it is not possible to go through a particular road, another one is found. There have been times when players and fans have walked kilometres to watch or play a game. Football attracts people in a way that is difficult to explain. A fan is ready to get wet to go and watch a game but will think twice of travelling in the rain after a match is over,” claimed Bruno.
“Going back a few decades ago, some tournaments were specifically held during the monsoons — Johnny Memorial, Custodio Memorial and Bandodkar Memorial are some that come to mind. The grounds where they were held permitted football to go on, even as the regular GFA venues remained closed until around mid-September,” recollects Antonio Bothelo, fondly known as the Google of football in India.