Before sealing the move to Europe the midfielder last played for Mumbai City in the ISL.
Sahil Tavora is no stranger to Indian football fans. The Goa-born midfielder was a part of FC Goa and Mumbai City in the Indian Super League (ISL) and has distinguished himself with his performances. The former Dempo midfielder was a pivotal figure for his side before deciding to take his skills abroad.
The 23-year-old currently plies his trade at GDSC Alvarenga, a lower league team in Portugal. There, Tavora created history by becoming the first Indian to score in a Portuguese league, when he netted the only goal in his side’s victory over rivals Avanca.
“I actually wasn’t aware of this until it was reported. It’s, of course, a great feeling having scored and being the first to have done so. But, I didn’t think too much about it before. I was just focused on doing my best for my team and helping them win and contribute in any way possible,” the young midfielder said expressing his surprise.
Tavora moved to Portugal after spending two seasons in the ISL. “It was actually former Goa player Bruno Pinheiro, who always knew of my ambition to one day play at a top division club in Europe, who helped me. Although, this club is a lower division team here in Portugal, I knew I had to make a start somewhere to get where I wanted to be,” said the former Dempo star explaining the reasons behind hjis move to Europe.
Far from the comfort of home, it is always difficult to adjust. “It’s been going good so far for me. It’s definitely taken some time to adjust off the pitch, with the weather conditions and other aspects. But, knowing a bit of Portuguese has definitely helped make the adjustment a bit easier, as I’ve got quite a few Brazilian teammates as well,” the Alvarenga midfielder reflected on adapting to life in the country.
Tavora then continued on the differences he saw in Portugal compared to the football in India.“It’s still early days. But, here in Portugal it is more physical and you get a lot less time on the ball, which requires quick decision-making. I would also say that there is great emphasis on the tactical aspect of the game too. I would say that tactically I’m learning a lot with every training session and game,” he asserted.
The youngster had a very successful spell in the ISL playing for the Gaurs in ISL 3 and Mumbai in ISL 4. “I think both seasons were great for me, as I got to work under two great coaches (Zico at FC Goa and Alexandre Guimaraes at Mumbai ) and learn a lot from both of them.”
“My first season, at Goa, being one of the youngest in the team, I knew that opportunities in the first-team would be few and I’m glad I managed to make the most of the six appearances I made, scoring twice. I managed to follow that up with more game-time last year (10 games), which is important being young,” he stated.
In terms of football development, Portugal are a few steps ahead of India. “I think one thing would have to be that there is a firm structure in place right down to the grassroots level, where kids have regular training at even an U-8’s level, whereas in India, I would say we start a little bit later with the kids,” the 23-year-old explained.
He also has a word of advice for Indian youngsters looking to pursue their football dreams abroad. “I would tell them for sure it’s a big sacrifice being away from family and friends and the comforts of being in your own country, but no great things in life come without making sacrifices and if its the right move, then it would be worth it,” the midfielder concluded.