Don Bosco- The Power House Of Mumbai Grassroots Football
Plethora of teams from all over the city are competing in the “Sunday League”, a popular version of 5th Kenkre Champions League powered by Rustomjee across 8 age divisions covering both the genders. But one team was constant in almost all the age groups- that was the host school- Don Bosco, Matunga. Be it U-10, U-12 or U-14 level, boys from Don-Bosco are producing dominating display from the word go and can clearly be declared as one of the strongest contenders to top the chart in this league. Since Don Bosco, Matunga is the host, questions might arise that is it the home ground advantage that they are reaping. We were curious and investigated into the cause – How Don Bosco, Matunga is emerging as a dominant force in all of the age groups?
First we enquired kids as to who the most feared and most favorite sports coaches of the school are, according to them. Astonishingly every answer pointed to one and only Leslie Machado, the sports head coach of Don Bosco, Matunga. Leslie Machado considered as one of the most experienced sports coach in Mumbai Sports circuit; who has foreseen and shaped up careers of eminent sports persons all over the country; was a symbol of utmost passion and modesty when we managed to sneak in for a chat with him. Here’s the brief excerpt of Leslie explaining how Don Bosco, Matunga managed to sustain a unique sports eco-system inside premises:
Q- How long have you been associated with the school and when did this sports-ecosystem come into being?
Leslie- I have been there with this school since 26 years. I joined in 1991 and immediately after a year we put forward a systematic plan which was initiated around ’92-’93 . Father Adolf who was the in charge then, helped a lot in this matter.
Q- What is the whole system and how did you guys manage it throughout the years?
Leslie- We have a sports division in the school consisting of all athletes like boys who play hockey, cricket, football, basketball, athletics and other sports and the division is known as D division. Throughout the year, every day, they come out for sports training in the last 2 classes without hampering the academic schedule. There are various coaches for each sport like Naresh Sir, Pillai Sir who assist me in all sporting matters. This continues throughout the year from June to the beginning of May. If any sports player falters in study he is demoted from the division and not allowed to train until his or her academic performances improve to the required level.
Q- How does the selection and training process go?
Leslie- Every year in May we have a summer camp where kids from every standard come and train, after which selection happens in each of the sports at every standards. Kids are judged on the basis of their physique, running style, area of interest, presence of mind etc. Selection starts from 2nd standard and goes until 9th standard for the sports division. Those who can’t find a place in that division comes to train on every weekends with the outsiders, who also train here due to excellent facilities and coaches.
Q- What would be some of the major recent accomplishments of Don Boco, in football at the grassroots level.
Leslie- Here, people are crazy about football. Everyone wants to play football only. Our U-16 team have been zonal Champions in Reliance Foundation Cup and our U-14 team is the defending champions in MSSA inter school division. Nathan Murzello and Nihal Dudwadhkar are representing Maharashtra in the sub-junior national football.
Q- What are the primary challenges of coaching such young kids of U-10, U-12 age groups and who are the ones providing the required support?
Leslie - The challenges are primarily to instill the correct basic techniques at a very young age since it’s actually the need of the hour and surprisingly children of these age group have a strong appetite to grasp the basic techniques. But there again you have to deal with them very cautiously as it’s a very tender age for mental conditioning. Throughout the years fathers (principals) have been very much generous and aware about sports ecosystem coupling with support of the parents, which has come only due to systematic planning of our curriculum and support of a strong faculty group and this will be going on strong for many years to continue.
As Leslie immersed back into tickling and scolding young kids again and again the whole investigation finally came to an end since it was clear as crystal, that , there’s definitely something more than just the “home advantage”; and that ‘something’ is ‘everything’ that other schools need to follow and break out of the shackles.