The Golden Eagles have stormed back after just one season in the second tier and their return could not have come at a better time….

The promotion of Dempo SC back to the I-League is great news for Goan football and especially the faithful Golden Eagles fans who backed the team through rough times. The club showed their class in the Second Division and made an emphatic return to India’s top flight.

The 5-time national league champions will now be looking to regain their position in the upper echelons of the domestic game. Dempo have been the most successful Goan club and their presence in the I-League will surely make a positive difference. Their return means there will be three Goan clubs which strengthens Goa’s position as one of the powerhouses of Indian football. Even Kolkata has only two clubs and that means the state will have the highest representation in the league which is a very healthy sign. When Dempo were relegated last year there were suggestions that Goan football is on the way down. But their prompt return has banished those notions.

The I-League is all set to expand in the coming seasons and this only serves to highlight the depth of football talent in India. It is also a reflection of the efforts put into grassroots development by the I-League clubs for the last two decades. Dempo have done everything right to be the darling club of many thousands of Goans spread across the world. Their dedication to create great footballers with the right focus on grassroots football development is commendable. The club follows a policy of adopting schools across the state, tapping into the good footballing talents and nurturing them into professional footballers. The results are there to be seen as the club has won numerous junior division leagues organized by the Goa Football Association.

India International Romeo Fernandes in Action for Dempo SC in Second Division

It would be right to say that the upcoming I-League campaign is an opportunity for Dempo to reconnect with its thousands of fans, some of whom had become disillusioned. The club has a very strong legacy in the region owing to a strong fan base that spans the length and breadth of the western state and beyond. The club boasts of famous local recruits like Romeo Fernandes , Mandar Rao Dessai and Laxmikant Kattimani. It can also avail of the services of these star names to encourage more youngsters to take to the game and follow the club.

“Being five times champions in the past and to be relegated was a big blow, not only for Goan football but also for Indian football. But after that only thing in our minds was to stick with the team, play the 2nd Division League and get promoted” Mandar Rao Desai reflected after the club were crowned I League 2nd Division champions.

Jimmy with Romeo and Mandar after winning second Division

While Jimmy John, “The official 12th Man” of the team was very emotional while sharing his thoughts on Dempo’s promotion. “God only knows how I have spent the last year, being one of the most successful Indian clubs we were relegated from the I-League even after finishing second last. But we took it as a challenge. In between many players left us. But we played with the same team and were promoted. Winning the 2nd Division League was one of the most important thing in my life”

The return of Dempo will also boost football in the state. Unlike Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar FC who are known to be mid table clubs, Dempo always aim for the title. The relegation of the Golden Eagles and the exclusion of Churchill Brothers SC from the I-League had a negative impact on Goan football with both clubs being former stalwarts of the Indian game. However, with Dempo’s return Goans now have renewed hope of winning major trophies. The Golden Eagles have a plethora of quality local talent at their disposal and a couple of shrewd additions from the overseas market should see the powerhouse mount a stern challenge to take back their pride of place at the very top of Indian football. Moreover, the return of old flavours and the reinvigorated powers of traditional heavyweights certainly makes fior an exciting I-League campaign next year.

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Editorial by Khel Now Reporter Ravish Narvekar from Goa . A true Football enthusiast & a die hard Liverpool fan. Ravish also enjoys travelling & he’s an avid foodie.