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My friend Brahmanand - Agnelo Gomes

A story by Agnelo Gomes. Insights provided by his friend in Goa of Goan Football Association

Those were the wonderful days during Portuguese era Estudantes (students) used to live at Lar de Estudantes and attend classes at Liceu in Pangim.  I was also part of that process. 

Students played for Academica, a team whose uniform was black, and had won Goa league championship without fielding Portuguese Pakhles. Quite a few students also played for Sporting Clube de Goa, in the second division - a team coached by great Pe. Chico Monteiro.

I was a supporter of Academica to which most of the good Lar de Esudantes players graduated. The team was then managed by late Dr. Remigio Pinto and Bento Fernandes.  Academica was relegated to the Second Division at the end of the season in 1967-68. Both Dr.Pinto and Bento worked hard to promote Academica to its excellence.

The same year Panvel (the name derives from Panvelim in Sao Pedro, adjoining village of Ribandar) was promoted to the First Division in place of Academica. It was managed then, by Mr. Krishna Bandodkar and his son Laximikant Bandodkar. At the end of 1968-69 Panvel too was demoted, but to the First Division as the old First had been renamed Senior.

Dhempe college had won the inter-collegiate tournament for the first time, and the boys were so enthused to continue as a team in the Second Division. The idea was born at Dhempe college to field a team later called Panvel

At the end of 1969-70 Panvel (now kitted in black as my favourite Academica used to) was back in First Division. Now begins the story of Brahmanand - in 70-71.

Mr. Brahmanand comes from a good Goan Hindu Brahmin family; his father was Seguna Camotim Sancoalcar, part owner of Casa Lusitana a liquor wholesaler in Panjim.

Three other brothers of Brahmanand, all elder to him - Guru, Vallabh and Ramesh were also football players. Vallabh had played for Academica and Santa Inez, and was playing for Panvel in 1970-71, but had already begun losing his place in the first eleven and not happy about it.

Panvel had two goalies - Shankar Verlekar of Santa Cruz and Ulhas Shetye of Assonora (the latter now an MLA).  Panvel had lost all nine matches of the first leg of the First Division.

Panvel had agreed to play a feast day match on 01 January 1971 at Saligao. It was difficult getting eleven players that day - both goalkeepers  had taken ill, one with fever and the other with jaundice.

A friend of mine had gone to Taleigao to remind Vallabh to come play but he declined giving some excuse or the other. Just across the road was Dr.Remigio's house and my friend popped in for a chat and told him about the difficulties he was facing that day getting together a team and a goalie.

Dr. Remigio Pinto suggested to my friend that he ask Vallabh's younger brother Boli (petname) to play in the goalkeeper's position. "He's good" Dr.Pinto said, and "I have often explained to him the theory of marking angles". So back my friend went to Vallabh who agreed to send Boli for the match.

My friend can still recall as they assembled near the Panjim ferry point to go to Saligao, this tall and gawky kid with a bundle wrapped in oldnewspapers approaching him and asking "Are you Botelho ? Vallabh sent me".

We played him, we lost the match 2-1 to Saligao, but Brahmanand did a decent job - nothing extraordinary, but no complaints.

Almost a fortnight later the Senior Division second leg was to re-start and we still had no goal-keeper fit to play. My friend remembered Boli, went to his father - He needed his permission as Boli(Brahmanand) was born in 1954 and therefore was still underage - got it, went to Progress High School where he was studying and got his documents for registration.

In the afternoon at the Police grounds, several of the Panvel players who had not seen him at Saligao, refused to even kit up saying they would not play without a proper goal-keeper. It was quite a job convincing them.

The match against Goa Shipyard started, incredibly we were up 2-0 in 10 minutes, then Shipyard struck back before half time with two corner kicks and it was 2-2. Boli(Brahmanand) was still not used to defending corner kicks !

In the second half he stopped everything and as Shipyard out of desperation began sending up defenders to increase the pressure Panvel started hitting goals on the counter-attacks. It was 6-2 in the dying seconds in favour of Panvel, when defender Gurudas Surlicar scored a spectacular self goal against Brahmanand - final score 6-3.

Panvel never looked back thereafter - beat MCC(Margao Cricket Club) 6-2, Merces 4-0, Police 2-1, drew with Salgaocar 1-1 before the league was abandoned as Vasco and Sesa were playing in Kerala and unable to return to Goa.

The next two years 71-72 and 72-73 Brahmanand gained confidence as Panvel went twice to the 5th spot in the Goa league - but at the end of the first year he had failed First Year Science, and the next year failed again. He came to my friend to say that he was giving up football and concentrating on studies.

By then he was really good, but the big clubs were still not interested in him. The only way to keep him going was my friend's offer to make him captain of the team in 73-74 - and Panvel went on to win the Bandodkar Gold Trophy, to this day the only amateur team to do so. And I still remember that.

Then Brahmanand joined Salgaocar in 74-75, was selected for Junior India, and by 1980 was selected for Senior India. He fractured his arm in a clash with Mr. Rosario Antao during a camp and almost everyone wrote him off. They did not take into account his will power and that he would recover and go back to his old form.

The Bengali domination ensured he did not get a place in the first eleven, including the Asian Games in 1982.

Panvel had been wound up way back in 1977 due to rising costs and their inability to meet the kit requirements after the death of then CM Dayanand Bandodkar.

My friend was already more involved with the Goa Football Association, but for years his suggestion that Boli (Brahmanand) be made captain had been defeated at Committee meetings and Goa used to lose in the finals or semi finals regularly.

Finally in 1983 committee agreed and we shared the trophy with Bengal in Calcutta - at those times it rated as a victory. In 1984 we repeated the victory, but outright, beating Punjab in the finals at Madras again with Boli as captain.

In the intervening period Boli was made captain of India in 1983 for the Nehru Cup at Cochin.

Besides credits to late Dr.Remigio Pinto's influence to mould Brahmanand into an extraordinary goalkeeper of Goa and India ever produced, there was also influence to his success credited to Mr. Peter Thangaraj the great Indian goalkeeper of the sixties, who was coach-cum-player for Vasco Club in the seventies, and Arun Ghosh the then current Director of the Tata Football Academy at Jamshedpur, one of the greatest stopper India produced.

Subsequently he passed through many Indian and foreign coaches in the plethora of camps he attended, but doubtful if there was anything more they did to improve his goalkeeping skills after what Thangaraj and Ghosh had groomed him.

He continued his career with Salgaocar until 1991, when his request to attend a FIFA coaching course at Kuala Lumpur for which he had been selected was rejected by the management, and since then he insisted that he was removed from the team and asked to report to his office job.

He joined Churchill Brothers, and with Churchill Alemao in power then as a minister he was absorbed as an employee in the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) of which he is now an Assistant Director.

He then played two years for Anderson Marine in the Senior Division to complete a record of 25 continuous seasons in the First/Senior Divisions and retired from active playing four years ago.

Last year 1999 he played for the Goa veterans team which won the Soccer World Cup organized by Goans International, Olavo Menezes, Rene Barreto and Milton Rodrigues, and sponsored by Agnelo Gomes Associates, USA.

He has also coached Anderson Marine and Salcete F.C.. Last year he was goal-keeping coach for the Senior India team.

Mr. Brahmanand is a gentleman, married to his childhood sweetheart, and has two daughters.

I wish Goa had more players with his qualifications on the field, of the heart and mind, and honesty.

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