Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'Incredible’ Goan heroes of Kuwait

'Incredible’ Goan heroes of Kuwait

(Standing L-R): Franky Rogtao,Johnny Pereira,Valerian D'Souza,Alberto Fernandes,Allan Anderson(Coach)Redualdo Braganza,Remmy Pereira,Collin Miranda and Lino Fernandes.
(Sitting L-R) Peter Santimano,Domnic Pereira,Joaquim Fernandes,Jovito D'Souza,Antao Rogtao,Baltazar D'Silva,Teddy Pinto and Lawrance.

[For more pictures and original text published, view ]

‘Incredible’ Goan heroes of Kuwait!
By Gasper Crasto, Kuwait

What was football like among Indians a few years back? What is different in football now than those days? How much has football changed now?

The history of Indian football is somewhat the same as a human life, constantly changing. One thing that doesn't change are the great memories of people who have been into the game over the years.

While we all remember matches that evoked of sentiment, generally football players are more fond than not of recalling and recounting the past. Do you remember your first match? Your first goal? The first time someone whacked your shin (nollo) with their boot? The storytelling, good memories, and shared experiences become part of the lore of the sport and part of what gets passed on to new players and youngsters.
Incredible was so strong, it was almost unbeatable. They were strong in all departments of the game and were rated as champions in every tournament they participated.

It is a record that the club won all major tournaments organized in Kuwait between 1987 and 1989.
Arguably the most popular game on earth and among Goans, football has unified and encouraged individuals, villagers and communities among the expatriates in Kuwait. For most, football is not just a game, but an event with a wide spectrum of influence. Indeed, for many years, almost every Goan here has enjoyed kicking a ball.

More than just a sport, football here is a ‘cultural’ phenomenon in which the village dramas and individual athletic rivalries are played out sparking the imagination and passion of many players and spectators.

The growth of football here, by and large, is probably tied to the Goan traditions. Some traditions have survived through the telling of stories by people who remember the ‘good old days’ and are willing to talk about them. Others are lost until someone digs back and the history becomes part of everyone's knowledge.

Among the heroes and history makers among Indian footballers in Kuwait, there was once a club popularly known as Incredible.

Incredible Sports Club

(Standing – Left to Right): Mario Carneiro (Katty de Navelim), Valeriano D'Souza, Morris Carneiro, Johny Pereira, Jovito D'Souza, Alex Pereira (President), Allan Anderson (Coach), late Peter Rato, Albert Fernandes, Remmy Pereira, Collin Miranda, Antao Rogtao, Cleto Fernandes.
(Sitting): Franky Rogtao, Domnic Pereira, Peter Santimano, Lino Fernandes, Redualdo Braganza, Joaquim Fernandes, Teddy Pinto, Lawrence and Baltazar D’Silva.
Prominent members missing in Photo: Bartholomeu Gonsalves, Rexon Braganza and Rubin Fernandes.
Photos taken in 1987; Courtesy: Albert Pinto

Incredible Sports Club reigned supreme from 1983 till the early 90’s before closing down in 1993. The club was supposedly named ‘INCREDIBLE XI’ after a reality television show called ‘That’s Incredible’ broadcast on Kuwait TV in the early 80’s. Formed by the villagers of Betalbatim, the club was also supported by Colva and Majorda villagers.

Late Peter Rato, Allan Anderson (Coach) and Alex Pereira (President)

Joaquim Fernandes,Late Peter Rato and Redualdo Braganza.

Johnny Pereira with coach Allan Anderson

Allan Anderson (Coach) and Albert Fernandes

The first president of the club was Mr. Alex Pereira while Albert Fernandes was chosen as the vice president. The early members of the club were Alsu Tavares, Francis Tavares, Remesantan Rogtao, Michael Fernandes, Mario Carneiro (Katty de Navelim), Morris Carneiro, Cleto Fernandes, Menino Fernandes (Menu), Joe Cotta, etc. Last president to hold post was late Mr. Peter Rato with Albert Pinto as the vice president, Lawrence Rato as the Club Advisor, and Raby Braganza as treasurer.

Agnelo Ferrao was the first Team Manager with Menino Rodrigues de Benaulim being the second and last Team Manager. A Scottish national by the name of Allan Anderson was the first coach of Incredible. The other person to coach the team was ex- Sesa Goa player Leo Machado.

Players and ‘Incredible’ Heroes

(Standing L-R): Jovito D'Souza,Valerian D'Souza,Teddy Pinto,Joaquim Fernandes,Lino Fernandes, Redualdo Braganza, Remmy
Pereira, Lawrance and Antao Rogtao.
(Sitting L-R): Domnic Pereira,Franky Rogtao,Albert Fernandes,Johnny Pereira,Baltazar D'Silva and Peter Santimano.

(Standing L-R): Jovito D'Souza,Teddy Pinto,Joaquim Fernandes,Lino Fernandes,Allan Anderson (Coach) Redualdo Braganza,Remmy Pereira,Lawrance and Antao Rogtao.
(Sitting L-R): Valerian D'Souza,Domnic Pereira,Franky Rogtao,Baltazar D'Silva and Peter Santimano
(with the ball L-R) Albert Fernandes and Johnny Pereira.

(Standing L-R): Franky Rogtao,Remmy Pereira,Teddy Pinto,Lino Fernandes,Allan Anderson (Coach) Alex Pereira (President) Albert Pinto,Jovito D'Souza,Lawrance,Joaquim Fernandes and Antao Rogtao.
(Sitting L-R): Albert Fernandes,Baltazar D'Silva,Valerian D'Souza,Redualdo Braganza,Peter Santimano,Domnic Pereira and Johnny Pereira.

Lino G.Fernandes

Peter Santimano

Franky Rogtao

Redualdo Braganza

Antao Rogtao

Joaquim Fernandes

Franklin Rebello, former goalkeeper of Betalbatim Sports Club in Goa was the first goalkeeper under the Incredible bar. He was a hero of the spectators on the famous Soor Grounds especially in the tie-breaks. Teddy Pinto, Antao Rogtao, Lino Fernandes, etc, were pillars in defence. Franky Rogtao and Peter Santimano played at their best in the half line along with Bartholomeu Gonsalves (Battu), a great dribbler.

Upfront they had Redualdo Braganza, a dashing forward while Rubin Fernandes (still playing for Veterans) was a playmaker and striker of immense stamina, speed and skill. Their centre forward Joaquim was a corner kick specialist having the ability to curl the ball direct into the goal. They also had Baltazar D’Silva, a ‘scoring machine’ in their strike force.

The team was so strong, it was almost unbeatable. They were strong in all departments of the game and were rated as champions in every tournament they participated. It is a record that the club won all the major tournaments organized in Kuwait between 1987 and 1989. Their victories included United Goans Shield, GCA Cup, Salcette Cup, etc, and the Youth Recreation Centre Trophy organized by Rising Stars which they won 3 years in a row. Incredible were champions in the inaugural year of the KIFF League.

Even G.O.A Maroons, a powerful team of all times, accepted Incredible as a class of a team among Indians. Assumption D’Sa, one of Maroons’ respected and long-time officials often acknowledged Incredible's credibility saying, “Tumkanch bhietat ami!” (We are frightened only of you.)

Remembering the golden days, one the former players, defender Lino Fernandes, fondly known as ‘Ubhoi’ (fly high) because of his charming long range shots, says, “We never played for the money or any such benefits. Even then, we never ever gave less than 100% and made sure our team mates didn’t either.....”

Lino G.Fernandes collecting Trophy.

Some of the other prominent players to don colors for Incredible were Julio Cardozo, Britto Pereira (ex-Vasco Club, Churchill Brothers), Joe Boy, Carmo, Eusebio Rogtao, Joe Fernandes, Francis Dias, Andrew Fernandes, Danny Fernandes, Philip Ferrao, Anthony Santimano, Terry Fernandes, Tony D’Costa, Rui Braganza, Rexon Braganza, etc.

Incredible Fans and their Memories

Apart from football, Incredible were involved had a number of social activities for their members that included the Annual Christmas Dance, Annual Family Picnic, Evening Tea Party & Housie on alternate Fridays, etc.

Incredible attracted a number of close friends and supporters because of their excellent display of football and sportsmanship. The black shorts worn by the team were stitched at home by Eusebio Rogtao.

Michael Fernandes - one of the most popular football spectators in Kuwait

One of the well-known supporters of the team was Michael Fernandes from Betalbatim. Some of the phrases coined by Michael during the glory days of Incredible are popular among the spectators even today. His words, yelled aloud in all sincerity and humor, such as ‘Chase the man, not the woman’, ‘Printing Mistake’, ‘Everybody likes Incredible’, etc, brought laughter galore to the spectators.

Asked about the past and the future of Indian football in Kuwait and in general, Cajetan Godinho, one of the best known footballers playing in Kuwait for over 30 years says, “Incredible really transformed football in Kuwait. We need this kind of constant transformation back home too... and we surely can have a decent Team India from our huge population... I still believe India could play in the World Cup one day if a proper youth program is put in place. Certainly we can find players who have the potential to shine in football...”

Avelino Dias, another legend of Indian football in Kuwait, recently awarded with ‘Athlete of the Year’ award says, “If some extremely talented player like Messi emerges out from our games here or out of India, someone who is good enough to play in the English Premier League, the game would really take off in our country. Look at the way the youngsters look up at Sachin Tendulkar,” he points out. “What India needs is a footballer like him, who can catch the imagination of our country.”

Talking to Baltazar D’Silva, another great player who donned the Incredible colors, there was clear evidence in his voice that he is respectful of all the honors won by the club and by him too, and promised to display the memories one fine day through the crumpled paper cuttings and yellowing photographs that he still holds close to his heart.

During the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, players of Incredible SC were asked to take the trophies home; some of the boys took them to Goa. After liberation, many of the players did not return back to Kuwait. The club resumed their games and took part in many competitions but eventually ended it’s reign at the top and closed down the club in 1993. That was the end of one of the great Goan football clubs abroad.

...But for the writer, this is just a beginning, much incomplete attempt to bring the threads of football’s tradition in this part of the world together into a single fabric to be worn and cherished as a symbol of the game for a long time to come...

Also check: 'Incredible' Goan heroes across the shores!

Other articles by the writer -- published in

(28.07.2008) Indian Football in Kuwait - The Winners and Losers
(21.05.2007) Another Year, Another Season, Where are we...?
(29.08.2006) Hipolito Fernandes - A Physio for Indian players in Kuwait
(17.07.2005) Superstars... and 'crazy' boys of the game