Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for children and youth. But during the lockdown children were largely affected as schools closed and sports came to a halt. Amidst the pandemic, there was a large number of children who were unable to go out and play football. To encourage them to train with the help of certified coaches, the Foundation came up with the ‘At Home Football’ program. A program that would be easy to access while being fun for the children.

The first phase of the ‘At Home Football’ program was successful. We are proud to announce that we now have the support of UNESCO for the next phase. In the second phase, we have reached out to 3 schools in Goa and provide the online program to 120 children. Our coaches send videos to the children through WhatsApp. They also provide individual feedback to every child in the program and help them improve their skills with each session. 

The UNESCO grant received by the Foundation aims to provide support to Non-Profit Youth and/or Sports-based organisations. It assists NGO’s working towards minimising the negative impact of Covid-19, especially on children and youth. We are extremely happy to know that the Foundation’s work resonates with UNESCO’s vision and look forward to continuously helping children develop with the game.

Click here to read more about the Foundation’s work.

The Generation Amazing festival was held from 2nd to 4th December and hosted young people from across the world. Discussions revolved around global issues and showcased the capacity of sports, especially football, to drive positive social change. One of the workshops “Sport and youth in turbulent times” was organised by the International Platform for Sports and Development. Ishita Godinho, Community Development and Communications Manager at Forca Goa Foundation was a panellist at this workshop. She was representing both the Foundation and the UNESCO Youth and Sport Task Force. The other panelists were representatives from ‘Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Network’ and ‘Foundation for Sport Development and Peace Youth Network’.

The conversation was focused on the way sport for development organisations can stay connected with the youth in the middle of the pandemic. Ishita started the conversation by speaking about the Youth and Sport Task Force as well as the Forca Goa Foundation. She explained how we are trying to make a positive difference through community-based activities. She also talked about the fact that both organisations are using their programs to champion the UN SDGs. The panel further discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of the panelists talked about its effect on their work and how they adjusted their programs accordingly. 

Impact of the Pandemic

Ishita talked about our work with the various relief organisations that were helping daily workers and migrants by providing them with ration and essential items. She further explained about the Foundation’s ‘At Home Football Program’ and its inception. We knew that there were children who were at home and unable to train or play. Some of them did not even have access to the technology required for online classes. So we developed the ‘At Home Football Program’. We made it available on WhatsApp – one of the most common mediums of communications used today. When asked if there was any way technology has changed the way the Foundation conducts programs, Ishita talked about the fact that technology was a boon that helped us stay connected to the children. But as a sports organisation we realise the importance and benefits of going out and playing on the pitch.

The panelists further discussed the future of sports for development entities. The general consensus was that the need for such programs will continue in the future as well. Ishita touched upon the fact that we regularly receive inquiries from parents about the start of on-ground sessions. This shows that parents have realised the value of regular play in their child’s life. We have a long way to go, especially due to the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also gave a parting piece of advice for other youth groups and networks. Ishita talked about elite footballers who are using their influence to talk about important social issues. She further gave examples of Megan Rapinoe supporting LGBTQ rights and equality in sports, and of Marcus Rashford and his quest for zero hunger in the UK.

A year full of varied experiences and learnings – that’s what the 2019-20 session was for us at the Forca Goa Foundation. From New York to South Korea to the United Kingdom, we shared our beliefs with and learnt from many organizations and football passionate individuals. We even spread out our wings across Goa with the Little Gaurs League, the biggest children’s league in Goa and one of the Top 10 Golden Baby Leagues in the country.

Beginning with a Bang!
Visit to Premier Skills Primary Stars Project in England

We started the season with an opportunity to visit England and learn about the Premier Skills Primary Stars Project. Our Senior Manager Nathaniel D’costa visited the Premier League Headquarters. There he engaged and interacted with people who have conceptualized and successfully implemented the project. Nathaniel is also a Premier Skills Coach Educator. Along with another coach educator, he conducted a British Council funded workshop in Shillong for 20 coaches. We were extremely delighted to receive some great positive feedback from the participants.

Global Goals World cup team

September was a busy month for us. Early in the month we attended the SDG Funshop, an International Conclave organized by UNESCO and held in Seoul, South Korea. Our Community Development Manager, Ishita Godinho, qualified to be a part of the event. There, she got to interact with like-minded sports advocates across different countries. The attending members are now a part of the UNESCO Youth and Sport Task Force and they continuously share knowledge with each other. We also got an opportunity to represent India at the Global Goals World Cup in New York. Our team came back with the most prestigious award of the event – Best Action Towards Sustainable Development Goals.

The Little Gaurs League
Little Gaurs League

Immediately after, we started preparations for the Little Gaurs League in Goa. Spread across three zones, the League saw participation from 109 teams! The number of participating girls increased from 5 last year to 241! Do take a look at our Annual Report to check out which teams won. Additionally, we started a new initiative working with four communities across Goa. The aim is to use the power of football and bring about change. 

In February 2020, we got the opportunity to present our work towards the Sustainable Development Goals to his excellency Ugo Astuto, European Union Ambassador. He lauded our commitment towards sustainable consumption and production for sourcing Fairtrade footballs for all our programs. We also celebrated International Women’s Day (8th March), with the ‘Girls Score Goals’ tournament. The aim was to provide girls with a platform to play and compete.

Impact of the Pandemic

Come April, we had to put our plans on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we had the privilege of helping volunteers and NGO’s with backend support as they religiously worked to provide food and essentials to the migrant population in Goa. The impact of the pandemic has been huge on grassroots sports. But we at Forca Goa Foundation are determined to do our best for the development of the game.

You can access our Annual Report here for full details of our work.

Countdown is a global event powered by TED and Future Stewards to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. The goal is to build a better future by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world. Countdown seeks to answer 5 fundamental, interconnected questions that can help form a blueprint for a cleaner future and turn ideas into action. 

Energy: How rapidly can we switch to 100% clean power?

Transport: How can we upgrade the way we move people and things?

Materials: How can we re-imagine and re-make the stuff around us?

Food: How can we spark a worldwide shift to healthier food systems?

Nature: How do we better protect and re-green the earth?

India has the highest youth population in the world and South Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions prone to climate change. The actions we take now will affect the future of our world. We understand how crucial it is for all of us to take actions to protect our environment. Therefore, we have partnered with Ted Countdown to join the race to a zero carbon world and become a climate champion. While we are training children to become better players, we also feel that we need to take strong action to build a better future for them.

The Foundation annually works with over 3000 children. Our aim is to make them aware of socially relevant issues through the medium of football. Through our initiatives and workshops we champion 3 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals; SDG3 – Good Health and Wellbeing, SDG5 – Gender Equality and SDG12 – Sustainable Production and Consumption. The children participating in our programs understand the need for waste management and sustainability. We look forward to sharing knowledge about climate change with them. This will empower them to take the small but necessary steps towards a greener future.

Ted Countdown launches on 10th October 2020 with a global virtual event. This will consist of talks, interviews and performances by thought leaders, scientists, naturalists, policymakers and business leaders from around the world. With these conversations, we all can collectively identify solutions that can help the world recover from the climate crisis.

Join us on the 10th of October. Let’s talk about the impact we are creating, the changes we can make and the actions we can take.

Long before Brandon Fernandes became the star midfielder, one of the best the country has produced – his story began at a football club called Fransa-Pax. When the club got disbanded he moved to Velsao Pale Sports Club and played for their under 14 side when he was just 8 years old!

It is at the grassroots and youth level where one can start seeing the origins of a true champion. The community that he or she grows up in, the hurdles they face, the support system, the mentors, the first goal, the biggest defeat, the limited means, the unlimited aspirations all add up to the story of a dream too big to seem achievable but too good to not go all-in!

We at the Foundation are extremely grateful that we get to celebrate the young footballers in all our initiatives. Children’s sports need strong focus and attention if India is to become a sporting powerhouse, and we have just the right partner to help us applaud the stories in grassroots football!

The Bridge is a digital media house extensively covering the unheard aspects of Indian Sports through impactful storytelling. They are passionate to bring about a change in the sports ecosystem.

We welcome The Bridge as our digital media partner and we hope together we can inspire young players to grow with the game, bring smiles to the parents that believe in their children’s dreams and celebrate the coaches that go above and beyond to create a strong culture for football in India.

FC Goa Co-owner and President, Akshay Tandon was recently in an interview with Star Sports commentator and presenter Anant Tyagi. They discussed various topics around ISL and Indian football including the work done and vision of the Forca Goa Foundation.

Akshay, who is also the Founder and Non-Executive Chairman of the Forca Goa Foundation, explained how the organization started. He talked about having a separate think tank for grassroots and creating technical knowledge as well as initiating our own leagues.

Vision of the Foundation

The Forca Goa Foundation wants to try and plug the gaps in the grassroots ecosystem of Indian football. The goal is to use the initiatives built in Goa as a model for others to replicate. To that effect, Akshay mentioned that the Foundation is planning to launch a fellowship program for coaches from all over the country. This will allow coaches to learn and gain knowledge about how to create a footballing ecosystem. They can then replicate this model in their own states with guidance from the Foundation.

Akshay also highlighted the big gaps that need to be filled; co-ed grassroots training, good coach education and better infrastructure. The Foundation’s objective is to address these gaps and see what it could do to fill them within the Indian footballing ecosystem.

Importance of Community Engagement

Answering a fan’s question – “What is stopping India according to you from becoming a powerhouse in world football and what FC Goa can do to improve or overcome that?”, Akshay used the Forca Goa Foundation as an example. He stated that we need to transition to sustainable models; where the community drives support behind not just the clubs, but also the leagues, the state associations. Football itself needs to drive that support. This happens at the grassroots level with more and more communities getting involved, which is where the Foundation acts as a stepping stone in the right direction.

Akshay also stressed upon the work done by the Foundation with respect to Women’s Football. Working with girls from the ages of 6 to 12, the Foundation has been advocating the need to make the sport an equal playing field. By doing so, the Foundation has been planting seeds to provide opportunities for the girls to make it into the clubs’ youth teams in the years to come.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.
You can also watch the full interview here.

According to UEFA, “Grassroots football is football played by the masses at a level where participation and a love of the game are the driving forces”. For the Foundation, grassroots football means organised football for children under the age of 12 – where the young players grow up playing the game locally as well as regularly, in a safe and inclusive environment. 

It is widely known that the best time for children to start playing football is between the ages of 3-5. Let’s take a deeper look at why starting at such a tender age is important. When children start playing from a young age, they start with exploring the game without the guidelines and the rules. They learn to move with a ball with their feet and develop their balance while doing so. 

It quickly becomes a second nature for them to have a ball at their feet. Something which tends to be advantageous in their future as football players. This is because ball coordination skills are the stepping stone to becoming a good player. The earlier a player knows the basics, the more time he/she can spend in learning and mastering new and more complex skills. 

We asked the coaches who fielded teams in the Little Gaurs League for their views on children starting young. “I strongly believe we should start training children starting at the age of 5 and build a strong base so that children can grow with the game and develop their footballing skills as best as possible”, says Gajanand Kauthankar, Coach Green Meadow School Goa and Green Meadow School United teams. 

David Navein. R, coach of Play Goa also feels that sowing the seed of football at a young age and regular training can be beneficial for a child’s future as a football player.

Furthermore, the amount of hours that children put into practice by the time they are playing as teenagers gives them the ability and confidence to execute moves intuitively. As the players become habituated to move with a ball at their feet, they can learn to focus on gameplay and strategic aspects enabling them to be completely aware of the game, their opponents’ weaknesses as well as their teammates’ strengths. 

India is one of the youngest countries in the world. In the 2011 census, the percentage of children under 14 years of age was 29.5%. According to a study done in 2016, only half of the children and youth in India indulge in some sort of physical activity on a daily basis. The others lead a sedentary lifestyle, spending a lot of time watching TV or playing video games, not knowing the importance of physical well-being. There is a very small percentage of children and youth who regularly play football. 

The reason behind this gap is the lack of a footballing culture throughout the country. As former Spain midfielder, Luis García pointed out – “India’s sporting culture needs to be changed in order to improve the standard of the game in the country”. And the best way to build this culture is through regular football programmes starting with children. Indian football requires players who watch the game and play the sport from the early stages of their life. 

We as a nation do not lack talent when it comes to football, but in order for India to showcase its footballing strength, we need to focus on developing the game at the grassroots.

Conversations around developing grassroots football are always fascinating and when you have a diverse set of panelists coming from ISL, I-League, State Association as well as from an International League, the discussion can be extremely thought-provoking.

Nathaniel D’costa, who is a Senior Manager at the Forca Goa Foundation was part of the panel discussing the importance of growing the game at the grassroots level. This chat was organized by 1 Play Sports that prides itself on covering various community-driven sports initiatives across the country.

To start off we had Mr. Shaji Prabhakaran who has written an invaluable book on the foundational level of football, entitled – ‘Back to the Grassroots’. From all his crucial pointers that were discussed in the hour-long chat, what stood out for us the most was the need for different footballing stakeholders to collaborate and pool in resources for the development of the game!

Gary Udhwani, who represents La Liga as the International Business Development, spoke about the value of soccer schools and the opportunities the talented children receive to go to Spain to train – and how these experiences shape up individuals in their career.

Mouriya S from Chennai City FC brought in the Youth perspective, and importantly answered a question around the broadcasting of youth and grassroots level matches; he rightly mentioned that in this day and age, we don’t need an expensive setup for broadcasting local matches. We believe this aspect can be such a motivating factor for young children to get on the pitch as well as their parents to encourage them.

Nathan stressed on the importance of making grassroots football as inclusive as possible and spoke at length about the Foundation’s ‘Girls Score Goals’ campaign – we need to encourage as many girls to play the game and make it an equal playing field. For that to happen, we need to invest in football infrastructure, make the facilities better with changing rooms, washrooms and ensuring security measures are in place as well.

The 1 Play Sports host, Anubhav Jain did a splendid job in getting the panelists to stress the importance of grassroots and as Mr. Shaji mentioned; we are currently at a nascent stage in developing the game in India and various aspects like sports science, analysis, better scouting and coaching have to be looked into if we have to create talent by design and not by chance. 

Click here to watch the entire discussion.

Ganeshpuri is an area in North Goa which has a history of football but currently faces socio-economic and infrastructure issues. We are working on reviving the community and it’s love for the game through our programme. We envision bringing about this change by 

  • giving children access to organised football activities
  • getting the youth involved in community coaching 
  • making the ground a ‘safe space’ for children

For this, we have organised a football training program which takes in kids between the ages of 10 and 12. The programme has 60 kids from 5th and 6th grade who train in 2 batches – 30 children play on Monday mornings and 30 on Wednesday mornings. Each batch has approximately 20 boys and 10 girls. 

Our grassroots coaches Rupesh, Som, Inacio, Nayan and Josline take the sessions in teams of 2 or 3. They divide the ground into 3 pitches – 2 for matches and 1 for drills. The kids are divided into smaller batches and they rotate between the 3 pitches. Furthermore, our coaches have also taken workshops on nutrition to promote healthy eating amongst children.

The Ganeshpuri ground is adjacent to the Ganeshpuri school which all of the kids attend. The PE teachers and Principal of the school understand the value addition which sports provide to the children and are always encouraging them to train. We even have few of the PE teachers from the school interested in taking up community coaching to create excitement amongst children towards the beautiful game. 

Our next steps will focus on organising more competitions and tournaments for the kids. Organised competitions at the grassroots level are scarce and we would like to provide the children with the experience of participating in professionally-run leagues. Our long term focus is to help the community gain access to football-related jobs and help talented children to enroll in Academies /Centres of Excellence so that they can develop their skills further. 

The Association of Indian Football Coaches recently held a webinar series for coaches across all states. It provided Indian football coaches with an opportunity to learn and refresh their coaching knowledge with the help of coach instructors and guest speakers from the football community. The webinar, which was held from 16th April to 5th May was attended by 16 grassroots coaches from the Foundation. It was divided into 8 modules which covered a range of topics from a coach’s role in a team to core football principles and fundamentals, also including futsal, goalkeeping, nutrition and hydration, and first aid training.

The Foundation is always on the lookout to provide coaches with learning opportunities and this series of webinars was a welcome opportunity for the coaches to learn from the best in Indian football. The modules were led by AIFF coach educators Mr. Shekar Kerkar and Mr. Caetano Pinho and every session had a guest speaker. Here’s the list of guest speakers from the webinar.

  1. Mr. Bibiyan Fernandes – IND coach U-16
  2. Mr. Floyd Pinto – IND Coach U-19
  3. Mr. Muthali – Aiff Coach Educator
  4. Mr. Felix D’souza – AIFF Coach Educator & IND GK Coach U-16
  5. Adv. Emidio Pinho – Human Rights Govt. of Goa
  6. Miss Samantha D’Costa – Coach Special Olympics
  7. Mr. Amrit Murali – Manager Technical Analysis, FC Goa
  8. Mr. Prashant J Singh – AIFF Coach Educator
  9. Ms. Maymol Rocky – IND Women Coach
  10. Mr. Clifford Miranda – Interim Coach FC Goa
  11. Ms. Anju Turambekar – TD Dempo SC
  12. Mr. Parth Parasher – Mental Health Coach, RF
  13. Mr. Dinesh Nair – AIFF Coach Educator
  14. Mr. Joshua Vaz – Futsal Coach Educator
  15. Mr. Jovito Lopes – General Secretary, GFA
  16. Mr. Savio Madeira – Head of Coach Education Dept. AIFF
  17. Mr. Jezz Weeks – Coach Educator Premier Skills – UK

We asked our coaches about their experience and received great reviews about the webinar and the speakers. Coach Som said,”I liked all the speakers as I feel all of them explained their particular topics nicely. I gained a lot of knowledge and it was a good experience for me”. All the coaches particularly appreciated when the speakers gave examples while explaining a topic.

While most of the coaches found the session on scouting and talent identification to be most helpful, some also liked the goal-setting sessions and the communication and motivation session. According to coach Josline, the most helpful sessions were the ones on child protection, behavioral characteristics of players, communication and motivation, and goalkeeping. Coach Inacio found the sessions on life skills, planning for development, goal setting, and futsal most helpful. In the nutrition and hydration session, coaches were asked to make systematic charts on what diet coaches should be following after their training sessions.

Coach Yash has already started thinking about how he can utilise the techniques used on the national level to start scouting at the grassroots level. He is trying to come up with a grading system for his players using all his learnings from the webinar. Coach Premson learned about the value in preparing sessions beforehand to ensure he can assess the development of his players. Coach Allain’s learning from the webinar were the different coaching methods used by different coaches who work at the national and international levels.

Some of the coaches also interacted with other attendees from the webinar to exchange ideas and understand how others are coping with the situation at hand. Coach Milagres talked to Bibiano Fernandes and learned that the national teams have been given a written program with reference to their diet and training which they are to follow. Coach Rohan and Allain interacted with other coaches in Goa who are facing similar difficulties. Many are making plans for the future and working on their fitness levels as well.

Bibiano and Floyd also interacted with coach Yash and shared their experience and learning. Both of them are spending a major chunk of their time reading resources about football. They also discussed the impact online mediums and social media is having on players – from zoom classes to Instagram challenges, the football community is doing their best to keep their players engaged.

Coaches are the backbone of football and in the current scenario, this webinar has given many of our coaches an opportunity to discover how they can utilise their time and energy in the most effective manner. It was a great initiative by AIFC and we look forward to more such opportunities.