Close to 2000 children in the age group of 6-11 participated in football clinics conducted over the past week across 4 schools in Vasco, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan’s School, St. Andrew’s High School, Naval Children’s School and Regina Mundi High School, as a pre-cursor to Salgaocar Football Club’s Community Outreach Program scheduled to kick-off on the 19th of October. In addition to learning some football basics, the youngsters did get a chance to interact and spend time with their idols from the senior team. The Community program had a little over 750 boys and girls enrolled in year one and the number is most certain to swell this year given how well the program has been received and going by the very enthusiastic response from parents and children alike. It comes as no surprise then, that the club continues to receive requests from various quarters to expand to other parts of Goa.
Youth development and community involvement have always been intrinsic to the club’s philosophy and it is with this in mind that the club’s Community Outreach Program came into existence in 2013-14. Salgaocar FC have consistently over the years produced players who’ve come through the club’s renowned youth development system to represent the senior team and gone on to further don national team colours. As part of the program, the children train every Sunday at the Chicalim Panchayat ground for an hour under the watchful eyes of qualified Salgaocar FC coaches and first team players. They are divided in 2 batches with the 9 to 11 year old boys training together whilst the girls and the younger boys form the other group.
Kids enrolled in the community program perform the role of player escorts at Salgaocar’s home matches and are allowed to be accompanied by a parent to the game at no charge. The most promising of the players from the Community program are absorbed into the club’s U-10 and U-12 teams. In the past, a lot of the players who came through the ranks joined the club at the U-14 level. However, the club is looking to ensure talented players are spotted at an even younger age and introduced into the system. To that effect the community program and school partnerships with Loyola HS and Marina English HS have provided a great platform and acted as a feeder.
Whilst reality may suggest that only a small percentage of these children will eventually make it as professional footballers, it is almost certain that a lot of these enthusiastic youngsters will choose to turn ‘Green’ for life.