The Gaurs’ Developmental Team head coach spoke about their current crop of players, new format of the league, growth of Indian football and more.

Among the current Indian Super League clubs, FC Goa have been one such entity who have paid extra attention to youth development. The Gaurs have a very strong youth system, as they focus on developing a strong pipeline of talented youngsters coming through the ranks. Recently, they appointed Deggie Cardozo as the head coach of their development team which is set to feature in the upcoming Goa Pro League.

Cardozo sounded very enthusiastic about the project as he shared his thoughts in an exclusive interview with Khel Now. He highlighted how the players at the club know their roadmap and according to their progress, they take steps forward.

“FC Goa are developing many talented players for the last few years and the players are also aware of the roadmap. They know what is going to happen next. In some teams, the reserve players do not know what is going to happen next. But here, it is a clear picture for the FC Goa players starting from the U-14s to U-18s, they know that they have to work hard and gradually get into the development squad,” he began.

“There are many players like Saviour Gama, Liston (Colaco) is playing for Hyderabad FC. Then there are goalkeepers like Shubham Dhas and Dylan D’Silva, who have come up the ranks. Several U-18 players have also been promoted to the development squad. So it is a big credit to all the youth coaches starting from Gavin (Araujo), Clifford Miranda, GK coach (Virender Singh) and obviously under the guidance of Derrick Pereira, who has guided them and helped them become better professionals,” Deggie Cardozo revealed.

Speaking about the current crop of talented players in the side, he stated how it is important for the youngsters to be both technically and mentally strong. He stated, “We have played five friendlies and have got some positive results. Many of the players are talented and technically strong, but we have to work with them in the mental aspect of things so that they can persist 90 minutes.”

“We are also going to educate them as to what they should do on and off the pitch. It is very important for any professional in this field. If you want names, then there is Sarineo Fernandes, Aiban Dohling, Aaren D’Silva, Nestor Dias, Dylan D’Silva, and so on. These are players who work very hard and I feel everyone should watch out for. I also feel they may get an opportunity to play in the first-team, if they can impress the head coach in future.

The former ATK Reserves coach also shared his thoughts on the Goa Pro League and how it has been the platform for young players to prove their mettle and then jump to greener pastures. Deggie Cardozo opened up on his time in Kolkata and experience in the Calcutta Football League.

“I feel Goa has one of the best domestic leagues in the country with a good professional setup. The league has given a platform for young players. We already know that most of the Goan teams prefer local players, so the coaches and management believe that they will make a big impact in the competition.”

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“I have been in Kolkata for the past two years and it is always very challenging. Winning was a part for them, but it was always about development. When I was with ATK, my focus was more on the development part, where I have given chances to most of the players in the Calcutta Football League and the U-18 players played in the Second Division League. I feel both the leagues are very competitive,” he continued.

The 33-year old could not make it big in his playing career as he was marred by injuries, but kept his spirits high and thought of becoming a coach. Deggie Cardozo has had stints with DSK Shivajians, where he worked with Derrick Pereira followed by a spell at ATK. He has returned home after eight years.

The roadmap for the youngsters at FC Goa is set and they know that they have to work hard to gradually progress to the next level. When questioned about the basis on which the Gaurs select the players who are to be promoted to the first-team, he said, “I want the players to be very professional. A professional knows how and when he can do the right things on and off the pitch.”

“Things like focusing on their diet, sleep and maintaining good hydration are very important aspects. Back at ATK, I focused on these things and we saw how my team qualified for the U-18 League for the first time in history. So, as a coach, I feel players should be disciplined and be able to express themselves in training.”

Interestingly, during his time with ATK, Deggie Cardozo worked closely with Sumit Rathi and it was under his guidance that the young defender went on to represent the senior team. He also bagged the Emerging Player of the Season last time out and the 33-year-old highlighted how the youngster was different from other players.

“Regarding Sumit Rathi, other than the footballer, he is also a very good human being, He was with the Indian Arrows and used to work very hard. If the training was at 4 PM, he would always be at the ground half an hour earlier, which shows how professional he is. He represented India U-19s and then played in the CFL and was picked for the senior team.”

Lastly, speaking on the new Goa Pro League season which is to be organized inside a bio-bubble, Deggie Cardozo feels that the challenges will be for each and every team. He also pointed out how as coaches have to take care of the players. “It has been challenging for all the teams and life has been completely different for the players, as they were waiting for 8-9 months to play again. We cannot push the players as much as it may lead to injuries and we have to take care of those factors,” he signed off.

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