Seven Titles and Counting….
Reflecting on a decade of domination in the local Mangalore football scene
It was more than a decade ago that I first arrived in Mangalore and began to experience the local football scene first hand. Needless to say, we have come a long way from those early days and the journey has seen the birth of two football clubs that transformed the local scene and set the gold standard in all aspects of football development.
Just last month, our senior outfit Yenepoya FC were crowned champions for the seventh time in eight seasons of the top tier of the Dakshina Karnataka Football League. What made it all the more special was the fact that the previous season ie 2019-20 was the only time we failed to win the championship having made a shock exit in the group phase and missed out on the playoffs.
What determines true champions is how they are able to face adversity. Day after day, session after session, it was clear that the boys were hungry to regain their pride, to reinforce their presence and to reclaim their championship. All of that against the backdrop of a once in a century pandemic that was already ravaging across the country meant that we really needed to step up our game.
Just a week prior to the start of the season, two of my key players were involved in a nasty head-on collision during a training ground incident and had to be rushed to hospital. The entire series of events had been very traumatic for some of the onlookers and many were left to ponder if this was a bad omen.
Going into the first game of the season, some would say that we were under-staffed in terms of the players at our disposal however that would be doing a massive disservice to the ones who stepped up to the challenge and put in an outstanding team-effort all throughout.
What was very evident was that the the players genuinely cared for one another and more importantly played for each other. As a coach, that is all that I ask for.
I would like to commend the senior players who really led by example this season and never used the pandemic as an excuse to cut corners all through the preparatory phase. I have always strived to maintain a good sporting and cultural ethos in the Yenepoya family and this year in particular tested us to the very limits and I am proud to say that our boys duly delivered in the end.
This title is dedicated to my players, past and present, who have done the Yenepoya name proud and have gone on to bigger quests in life but still remained humble enough to value the lessons they learnt on the football pitches in Mangalore. Thank you for keeping the spirit alive and burning brighter than ever.
Nehru Maidan, Mangalore’s football hub, has been a favourite hunting ground for our teams over the years and I pray and hope that it continues to be so in the coming future as the next generation steps into the colours and continues the legacy.