The Dempo SC Academy has completed three years and is gaining milestones. Dempo SC owner SHRINIVAS DEMPO spoke to Sports Editor AUGUSTO RODRIGUES on the steps being taken to take the academy to greater heights

Q: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has finally come out with a roadmap for football in India. Do you find clarity in it and what is the way forward for Dempo Sports Club?

At least now there is some clarity and I hope the team gets into the I-League within 3 to five years. We have the boys who have crossed 18 years under the contract system so that no one will be able to poach them and I expect the boys to work themselves up the national ladder.

Q: Dempo SC has topped, except for one, all the AIFF age group leagues in Goa and qualified for the national level. What are the next steps?

We want to make our academy professional. Our first level was to get boys spotted, to represent the country and we already have four boys who have been noticed so far. Level 2 is to see the U-20 boys qualify for the I-League on their own merit and level 3 will be to see Indian Super League (ISL) teams pick up our boys. So, we are building boys for our team and for others.

Q: What percentage of your target has been achieved in the three years of the Academy?

We have had very good beginnings. This year apart from winning all, there were some competitions where the teams did not lose a single match. Yet, I would say that we have not achieved the targets we set out in my mind. Realistically, I would say we have done around 20 to 30 per cent.

Q: Which are the areas that you are still looking to develop?

We are at a nascent stage and cannot pat ourselves on the back for the good results that we have got and say everything is done.

Q: What needs to be done?

We are investing in the best resources and best infrastructure and I am now thinking of getting the services of the best nutritionists from Mumbai for the Academy. It is not that we do not have one now but I want to take it to a more scientific level. The boys now need to be monitored through other scientific parameters. We are right now in the semi- professional stage.

Q: With all the investment and all the results isn’t Dempo SC Academy amongst the best in India today?

We go by best practices and the way we are going, we are getting there in time.

Q: Dempo SC fans are happy about the investment in the Academy but are also waiting for the team to make its presence at the national and international level again. How long will the wait be?

We are investing so much in the Academy that right now the emphasis is not on spending much on the team. The team will grow through the grassroots. Look at the teams that won the I-League in the last 2 to 3 years. They did so with minimal investment and big clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were kept away. Our boys will get there in time.

Q: What happens to the senior team in the Goa Professional League?

My wish is to see that the number of U-20 players keep increasing in the senior team every year. Last year coach Samir (Naik) took in six boys and I hope the number keeps increasing. I do not interfere in the functioning of my coaches.

Q: You have always stressed that apart from producing good football players, the ethos of Dempo is to produce good human beings. Do you see a synergy?

We have made a beginning and we need to cross many more paths to get there. I have asked my new Technical Director to get the boys to go out to the lesser fortunate and to try and make the whole village a part of the Academy, a part of our family.

Q: What is the football agenda for this year?

I want my boys to stand out in India and to improve our academy rating from three to four.

Q: You were not sure about getting involved with women’s football in the past because of lack of clarity. Has anything changed?

Women’s football has rich history in Goa. But, if you ask me what you are going to do tomorrow, I have no answer.