Only 4 Teams Turn Up as Goa Football Association Conducts Players Draft for Indian Women's League Qualifiers
FC Goa, Panjim Footballers, Sporting Clube de Goa and Goa Velha Sports Club were not a part of the draft system for Goa's IWL qualifiers after expressing dissatisfaction.
Goa Football Association will begin the 4-team Women's League in November.
New Delhi: Goa Football Association (GFA), on Wednesday, conducted the players draft ahead of the Women's League, which works as the qualifiers for the next season's Indian Women's League (IWL), but with just four teams in fray.
Churchill Brothers, Albert Developers Sports Club and a couple of new teams PVC Parra and Bidesh XI Assonora were the ones to take part in the draft after FC Goa, Panjim Footballers, Sporting Clube de Goa and Goa Velha Sports Club pulled out citing issues with the draft system and the hurried manner in which it took place.
Last year, eight teams were part of the Women's League but this year, the teams have been reduced to exactly half. While GFA complains of non-cooperation from the clubs, the dissatisfied clubs cite the uncertainty around the organisation and system as their prime issue.
Two-time Goa Women's League champions Panjim Footballers, Sporting Clube de Goa and Goa Velha Sports Club opted out, as reported by Times of India, after the GFA said there would be no player retention and all teams would pick players through a draft system.
The reason cited by GFA for having a draft system is that with new teams joining in, it will be unfair on them if they lose out on a pool of players with other teams retaining some.
A day before the draft scheduled for October 16, FC Goa's Director of Football Ravi Puskur wrote to GFA asking for the draft to be postponed as they felt "given the rushed nature of the circumstances in which the league is scheduled to be organised", they were "not optimally prepared to form a team to the best of our abilities".
With GFA not responding to the letter, FC Goa decided not to attend the draft and thus, the pool of 148 players was divided between the four teams, who all got 37 players each. They are supposed to reduce the squad to 25 after trials.
"We will start the four-team league sometime in mid-November and we will wind it up on a double-league basis by mid-December. With the double league format, we will have 12 games in total," GFA acting secretary Jovito Lopes told News18.com.
CLUBS COMPLAIN, GFA COUNTER
Puskur told News18.com that even the league's sponsor Vedanta were not keen on doing the draft but GFA went ahead with it anyway.
Lopes elaborated and said, "On the day of the draft, Vedanta, who are supposed to sponsor the league, they tell us at about 10AM 'you can't have the draft in our office and our official will not come for it'. Having made all the arrangements, there was no way we were going back so the draft had to be held yesterday (October 16)."
Puskur said that when FC Goa began the women's team last year - that finished runners-up in the league - they had the idea that it would be an 8-team league inititally, which will only expand, "ensuring the developing and not just ticking of a box exercise."
FC Goa, as a club, feel that four teams in a league doesn't provide sufficient competitive games and whoever goes on to represent Goa in the IWL will not be adequately prepared for the quality there.
"We asked for a dialogue with the GFA, where all the stakeholders, including the three teams who have backed out be present, so that we can talk about why they backed out and what we can do to help in that regard," Puskur added.
The teams in Goa are generally dissatisfied by the lack of continuity as when they put their resources in developing players for a season, they want to reap benefits of the same. Puskur said even the players need to "feel like they have a career instead of just jumping from one team to another based on how the draft goes on a given day."
While a lot of teams backed out due to dissatisfaction with the draft system, some were facing financial constraints as well. News18.com reported in August that only two - FC Goa and Albert Developers - paid their players from the eight teams in the league last year.
"We want to have more teams. There are clubs that want to field women's team but there is lack of clarity as to how GFA wants to run the game and the league and what is the future of the league. So if we have an idea of how the league is going to be run, it helps us all to plan. The idea is to have at least eight teams otherwise the number of girls participating from last year will be cut by 50 per cent and I don't see how that's benefitting them, the clubs or the game in general," Puskur said.
Puskur further said that the league had been held hastily last year as well but this year, the sudden pull-out of three clubs took them by complete surprise.
"The league was hastily done last year as well with players playing every alternate day and that's not a condition that any footballer should be subjected to. We thought we'll all figure it out but nothing's clear yet.
"We knew that the draft system would be there and that there will be a certain number of players that you would not be allowed to retain because a new team is coming and we expect them to be given a fair shot at this. But we wanted to retain certain players because we have made efforts to train them. But there was no communication from the GFA. We came to know that one team is pulling so we thought that one team is going to be replaced but what caught us out was that the league was reduced to four teams all of a sudden," Puskur explained.
GFA acting secretary Lopes, however, was livid with FC Goa for pulling out at the last moment and has a completely different turn of events to speak about.
Lopes said that the entire process regarding the league started on August 16 and they had asked all the volunteer clubs to come for the meeting. Panjim Footballers, Sporting Clube de Goa and Goa Velha Sports Club did not turn up for it. Despite having asked them to come forward and speak to them again, Lopes said they missed all the subsequent meetings, where Churchill, Albert, FC Goa and PVC Parra were present.
"We decided to go ahead with whosoever we had and everyone agreed to the draft system. It was a decision taken along with all the participating teams. The proposal was then put in front of the executive committee who gave it a green signal. The date and time for the draft was decided and the four participating teams at that time (FC Goa, Churchill Brothers, Albert Developers Sports Club and PVC Parra) were told. The representative of FC Goa was also present there and she agreed.
"Even four days before the draft, everything was confirmed with all the teams, including FC Goa. The day ahead of the draft, FC Goa sends a mail asking for the postponement. They did not even give us 24 hours," Lopes went on to say.
Lopes said they added Bidesh XI Assonora, who they had received a request for inclusion from previously, after FC Goa did not turn up for the draft. "Their (FC Goa) request for postponement had various clauses and they wanted to dictate their terms to us, they are nobody to do that. It is unfair and unsporting. When your representative has been attending all the meetings, it is unfair to come up with such a letter at the last moment."
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