Former Technical Director Karnagaran Naidoo from South Africa was instrumental in setting up the Academy. Katz, as he was popularity known, sowed the seeds for Dempo before he passed away in December.
Last season, only the under-16 side managed to qualify and take part in the all-India playoffs. They reached the main round but were eventually knocked out in the semifinals. This time, Dempo have done much better. They won the GFA U-14 and tasted success with the U-16 team too, both remaining unbeaten in the league.
Dempo have now qualified for all the I-League junior tournaments from the zonal phase, remaining unbeaten in the Sub-Junior League and Junior League. In the Elite League (U-18), they lost only once and finished second as FC Goa topped the group with a better head-to-head record.
Even at the all-India level, Dempo have made a contribution. Four of their players- Shameek Vas, Delmon Rebello,Shayne Don Afonso and Clarance Fernandes- were called for national camps. Shameek vas even included in the India squad for the AFCU-16 championships and the SAFF cup.
“Almost four or five of our boys have joined the India camp. Our vision in general is to see that the same team, our U-20 team, qualifies for Second Division I-League and go into I-League.” said Dempo.
They have entrusted that responsibility to their new technical director Anju Turambekar, one of the first woman in Asia to now direct a men’s football club. Dempo are also targeting to improve their three-star rating to five-star among the AIFF academies. They have also planned to introduce the pay-in model in the next two years and are already getting inquiries.
“We are working on that now and once we are absolutely sure, we will start because the pay in boys will have different expectations. Once we stabilise completely, the we will have the pay model,” said Dempo.
Having impressed many this season, the club has already started planning for the next. A talent identification camp for the AIFF under-13 Sub-Junior League and GFA league will be held next month at Duler and Nagoa.
“Katz laid a very strong foundation and was extremely disciplined. He built a culture of unity and developed the coaches. A lot of credit goes to him. Now Anju is building systematically on that,” said Dempo.
The club may be out of sight at the national level, for now, but at least in Goa, Dempo have not been out of mind.
Reap What you Sow – Flavio Lopes (TOI)