Dempo: 'Injuries ruined our season'

The owner of Dempo SC, Shrinivas Dempo, was clearly intent on building a legacy for his club with an academy...

Away from the quagmire that Dempo’s season has turned out to become in the 2014-15 I-League, Shrinivas Dempo, the chief patron and chief propriétaire of one of India’s most successful Goan clubs, remains cool calm and collected about his team’s future.

He has elucidated that he aims to set-up academies to help source talent for his Golden Eagles whilst opining that Dempo are having a forgetful season partly due to injuries sustained by players in the Indian Super League (ISL).

“Unless there is an academy and strong grassroots development programme there is no future for football. Today, I feel most clubs should go back to their drawing room to chalk out their plans, like we are in the process of launching our own football academy. We have got government approval to start a full-fledged school up to the 12th standard. But, we are now only trying to see if we can combine the academy with the school,” revealed the purposeful chairman, in an interview with the Herald in Goa.

He further added, “We need to develop our own players and squad. The very fact we can select players from the academy and they go to school and practice which I feel is a very good model. I feel the academy should be realized in about less than three years but that is the only way to build a longer and sustainable team.”

Dempo’s five league titles, earned between 2004 and 2012, are reminiscent of a bygone age where their performances under Armando Colaco had helped them become a household name in the Indian football pantheon. Nowadays, the team with more league titles than any other side in the current format, are battling for survival and Dempo trades no punches in laying clear the reasons as to why he believes the team are under-performing.

"This year has been challenging for us on a couple of counts. We had a change of the head coach (Arthur Papas). This has an effect on the players. Secondly, we had a spate of injuries. This is something we will look at in the long term. How are we going to perform with ISL and I-League is the big question,” he explained, clearly believing nothing more than the aforementioned factors have dragged his team down to ninth in the I-League table, most recently with another compounding loss to Shillong Lajong in the league on Saturday.  

It must be remembered that for the ISL, Dempo sourced their players to FC Goa, who were under the tutelage of Brazilian legend Zico. Asked to clarify his position in how the ISL may have impacted his team’s injuries, as one of the co-owners of FC Goa himself, Dempo explained, “The core team of FC Goa was formed with Dempo players. Our key players like midfielder Pronay Halder and defender Narayan Das were injured during the ISL. We further had more injuries in the I-League that compounded to our woes. Moreover, we cannot field more than two foreign players.

“Australian striker Tolgay Ozbey had injury, Afghan defender Zohib Islam Amiri and the Costa Rican midfielder Carlos Hernandez were injured. The change in strategy of the coach too kind of unsettled the players, which I attribute to the team's poor performance this season,” he concluded.

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