Legacy of Indian Football in Kuwait

-by gasper crasto / Kuwait

Kuwait: The KIFF League played under the auspices of Kuwait Indian Football Federation (K.I.F.F) and officiated by I.F.R.A referees provides Indian players with the opportunity to showcase their soccer skills against the best competition, while emphasizing teamwork, discipline and fair play -- in perhaps one of India's only 11-aside league abroad.

KIFF President B.M. Viegas handing over the J.P. D'Mello Memorial Trophy to Navelim President Mario Carneiro & Captain Britto Photos by:Simon Dias

League football is a test of players' skills, stamina and endurance. The Phase II of the league played in scorching summer heat was rigorous and nearly impossible at times. Just standing there in temperatures as high as 48°C can melt the skin, burn the feet and make the eyes breathe fire. The summer heat was not just the right weather for a final match of the league.
The League named after late Jerome Pascoal D'Mello (popularly known to all as J.P. D'Mello), Goa's first international football referee, consisted of 18 registered teams. The league which commenced in October last ended on 18th July 2008 with Navelim Youth Centre emerging champions in the final match. Navelim beat Kerala Challengers, Kuwait Goan Association and AVC in their last 3 encounters.

DHL-Kuwait beat Kuwait Goans for Third Place

In the final match played at Salmiya Grounds, Navelim Youth Centre beat AVC-Kuwait in the tie-breaker 4-2 (Full time score 0-0).

Navelim have now won the league for a record 5 times followed by G.O.A. Maroons (3 times) since the establishment of the League in 1994-95.

DHL-Kuwait won the Third Place displacing mighty Kuwait Goan Association by a solitary goal in the other match of the day.

Winning the League Championship was one of the sweetest achievements for Navelim for more reasons than one. Navelim is the only football club in Kuwait that can boast of maximum players (12 players in the first sixteen) from their own village in Goa.

Navelim played a unique formation of 4-5-1 with just one forward which was more suitable for the hot conditions where some players looked like ‘fish floating on water about to be kicked to shore' towards the end of the match.

AVC defenders Francis Rodrigues, Peter and Joseph Quadros played well in the defence, while their other central defender played Jamaican fooball with the sole intention of kicking the ball anywhere but away - even out of reach of his own players.

Navelim played a passing game throughout that unsettled AVC time and again. Navelim built the moves right from their defence with John Furtado, Joaquim Rodrigues, Wilson and Alfred Pires initiating the moves. Their midfield had incredible control over the ball with man-of-the-match Seby Furtado running tirelessly and combining well with his team mates. Simao Gaunkar, Christi, Americo, Duarte Ferrao, Sidney Rodrigues and Ivo D'Costa played lot of passes between themselves before finishing off on AVC goal.

Savio Fernandes, Luciano D'Souza and Edward Dias were outstanding for AVC but the strikers Kevin Vaz, Melvy Fernandes, Ronnie Fernandes and Molvito Mascarenhas were overshadowed by Navelim defence. Navelim were unlucky not to have found the mark when Gasper Crasto's 30 yard free kick beat AVC goalkeeper Jose Fernandes and rebounded from the cross bar off the goal line.

The tie-breaker was enforced after the teams failed to break the deadlock even after extra time of play. Navelim goalkeeper Britto Pereira, whose diving in recent seasons was as sluggish as a python, showed tremendous reflexes in saving 2 penalties with flying, full length dives in the air, brining in memories of his glory days when he won accolades playing for Vasco Club, Churchill Brothers and the famous all-Goa champion tie-breaker club ‘Dire Straits'.

Navelim YC - KIFF League Champions 2007-08

The Champions: To finish first, you must first finish.

The Champion team Navelim included Britto Pereira (goalkeeper), Wilson Pires, John Furtado, Alfred Pires, Joaquim Rodrigues, Simao Gaunkar, Christi Pires, Seby Furtado, Duarte Ferrao, Americo Fernandes, Gasper Crasto, Ivo D'Costa, Sidney Rodrigues, Victor Fernandes, Cruzedio Rodrigues, Kelvin Rodrigues, etc.

Coach: Gasper Crasto; Team Manager: Bernard Fernandes; Asst. Team Manager: Britto Pereira President of Navelim: Mario Carneiro; Sports Secretary: Avelino Dias

KIFF President B.M. Viegas gave away the J.P.D'Mello Trophy to the Winners and spoke on the occasion. He praised his committee for all the support and singled out Sports Secretary Derrick Gomindes and the I.F.R.A referees for their wholehearted contribution.

Vice-President Manuel D'Costa proposed a vote of thanks. KGTS President Cajetan de Sanvordem and Mr. V.K. Vohra were among the dignitaries that attended the final.

KIFF Managing Committee for the season consisted B.M. Viegas - President, Manuel D'Costa - Vice President, Fidelis Fernandes - General Secretary; Cajetan Ferrao - Treasurer; Derick Gomindes - Sports Secretary; Michael Fernandes - Registrar; P. A. Tony - Asst. Sports Secretary; Steven Fernandes - P.R.O; Mario (Katty) Carneiro - Executive Member.

Football among Indian expatriates in Kuwait fulfils its function to divert one's mind from reality whilst bringing different communities together in unity. The arrogance of players raise the question: What do our clubs play for? Friendship or enmity? What do our clubs teach their players? Discipline or hatred? What are our teams fighting for? Gold or Diamonds? What are we going to take home finally? Trophies or sand? Respect or a black face? What is the contribution of such players towards the promotion of the game? AVC coach Alvaro Dias, who has played many a battle in his career, am sure, will try to inculcate sense in his team as there are no others in the vicinity of the club who can understand football as much as him or are worth his calibre.

B.M. Viegas handing over Runners-up Trophy to AVC coach Alvaro Dias and captain Francis Rodrigues

Legacy of Indian Football Clubs in Kuwait

All the Indian clubs in Kuwait have worked hard over the years to carve a niche in Indian football and keep the name of their clubs flying high. United Goans' Centre have been in the forefront for over 3 decades with their slogan ‘Friendship Through Sports'. Santos Football Club, founded under the name of ‘Apache' has been actively involved in the promotion of football activities since 1979. CRC Chinchinim have strived to boost Indian football since 1992. Curtocares United has promoted football activities since 1995. Kerala teams of Fahaheel Brothers, and Kerala Challengers have participated competitively with their teams and in the true spirit of the game. Youth Recreational Centre (Rising Stars), one of the formidable clubs have organized and played quality football and helped to take Indian Football to a high. Bombay Boys have also played a stellar role over the years for the upliftment of the game.

The current league Champions Navelim YC have always done an amazing job in the past to uphold its values and traditions, livng to its standards since the establishment of the club in 1987 - organizing football and promoting footballers. Navelim are among the top teams in Kuwait winning every trophy at stake, being proud holders of all 3 Silver Jubilee Trophies conducted in Kuwait - the UG Silver Jubilee Trophy (2002-03), Rising Stars Silver Jubilee Trophy (2003-04) and GOA Maroons Silver Jubilee Year Trophy (2004-05). Navelim's NYC Trophy tournament has completed 18 grand editions with the host (Navelim) winning the Championship for a record 6 times followed by G.O.A Maroons (5 times).

Goan Overseas Association (G.O.A) popularly known as ‘GOA Maroons' founded in 1979 have promoted friendship through football over the years. The strong bond of friendship that glues this club together can be seen everywhere, be it on the soccer field, off the field or the social front. Maroons have won many championships, perhaps the greatest of all being the ‘Forest of Dean RA Trophy' organized by Hubara Club - at Ahmadi in the early 1980s, where, in the semifinal, Maroons defeated the mighty Hubara club which had players of European and Kuwaiti nationalities. They say, that was one of the most memorable game played by Indians in Kuwait - played at midnight on floodlit grounds which brought together hundreds of Goans in support and unity.

I.F.R.A, K.I.F.F and the memory of late J.P.D'Mello

The Indian Football Referees Association (I.F.R.A.) has been one organization which has given an immense goodwill to Indian football in Kuwait. Since 1980, the association has trained and recruited new referees as its members and provided services for football matches. The late J.P. D'Mello, Founder President of the Association was the one instrumental in forming the current Kuwait Indian Football Federation (K.I.F.F). His memory has been justly kept alive by KIFF through its affiliated Indian football teams/clubs/associations by naming the KIFF League after him.

The Kuwait Indian Football Federation (K.I.F.F) established in 1983 controls all Indian expatriate football activities in Kuwait. In the just concluded season 2007-08, a total of 18 teams were registered with the federation with over 400 players displaying their skills every Friday morning. Apart from the League, 4 regular tournaments and 5 Seven-a-side tournaments are held under KIFF every season. The KIFF will celebrate 25 glorious years of its existence next season.

For over 30 years, Indian clubs and associations have strived to ensure development of individual players while teaching the importance of team effort, fair competition, discipline and good sportsmanship.

Players, officials, clubs may come and go. But Indian football, for sure, will remain a Winner in Kuwait for a long time.

KIFF Committee presents popcorn prizes

It is a crying shame that the KIFF Managing Committee never even thought twice while presenting KD1.500 (Rs. 229 equivalent) worth of medals as mementos to the winners and runners-up players. Are these medals, which are usually given for school kids, worth a memory of a grueling league where players fight and slog, squander time and energy, brave the winter and heat, risk injuries, etc, and go through much anxiety and depression?

KIFF, which consists of 18 clubs, conducts just one tournament in a year - the league. They are expected to organize and give away the best prizes than the clubs and make the event a memorable one for players and everyone involved. Has KIFF done justice distributing these low cost biscuits? Even the Nepalis and Bangladeshis who hold matches for just a couple of Fridays a year give away better individual prizes. Prizes/trophies and cash awards won by teams that play even in paddy fields in Goa are to be seen to be believed. Pity the KIFF-affiliated club players. The top 4 teams' players all deserved better prizes - such as a windcheater or a track suit with the KIFF logo.

If KIFF can find sponsors to organize a grand dance, can't they find someone to sponsor prizes for the deserving players? What are the committee members for? Just to display their new shirts, suit and ties on the day of the final? Did they see the look of dismay and disbelief on the faces of the players receiving the medals? With all due respect for their presence in KIFF, administration and running around throughout the year, the incapability of KIFF to even move the prestigious KIFF final to a stadium or floodlights tells a sorry story. Trophies given to teams don't mean anything to players, but the prizes given to individual players mean a lot to every player and perhaps remains with them for life as a cherished souvenir.

A year long league certainly deserves better and more prizes than what KIFF gave at the finals. There should be prizes for every position - Best Goalkeeper, Best Defender, Best Midfielder, Best Striker of the League and Player of the League. These kind of prizes is an encouragement to perform better in future and will certainly boost the enthusiasm of youngsters.

The trend to stop giving these medals was pointed to the KIFF after KIFF gave these medals to the League winners (Navelim) in 2001-02, and United Goans (UG) gave them in their Silver Jubilee Year in 2002-03 (at a very prestigious event). UG have continued giving peanuts at finals and repeated the feat again this year. They should be given a Bharat Ratna for doing that. UG should either buy good prizes from their next ‘Edition' or stop this another ‘Addition' before the club and UG Trophy is unceremoniously forced to the grave.

V.K. Vohra handing over Top Scorer of the Season Gold Coin to Andre Dias

The V.K. Vohra Gold Coin

Mr. V.K. Vohra has been giving away a gold coin to the ‘top scorer of the season' for many years now. Navelim's Cruzedio Rodrigues has won the Gold Coin 5 times. This year the coin went to Andre Dias of Kuwait Goan Association. Andre topped the league as well as the entire season. Kuwait Indian Football needs such thoughtful persons as Mr. Vohra, a former KIFF President, persons who know the real worth of players. May the Almighty fill his home with a hundred thousand gold coins for his love for the game and for being a source of inspiration to budding footballers.

Record of the League since 1996-97:





Navelim Y. Centre v/s G.O.A Maroons

GOA Maroons


Navelim Y. Centre v/s United Friends Club

Navelim Youth Centre


United Friends Club v/s United Goans Centre

United Friends Club


League not held


G.O.A Maroons v/s United Friends Club

GOA Maroons


Navelim Y. Centre v/s G.O.A Maroons

Navelim Youth Centre


Navelim Y. Centre v/s United Friends Club

United Friends Club


Bombay Boys v/s United Friends Club

Bombay Boys


Navelim Youth Centre v/s A.V.C. Overseas Association

AVC Overseas Association


Navelim Youth Centre v/s GOA Maroons

Navelim Youth Centre


Kuwait Goans v/s Kerala Challengers

Kuwait Goans


Navelim Youth Centre v/s A.V.C. Overseas Association

Navelim Youth Centre

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