Tato Speaks, Episode 2 - The learning never stops

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” - John Lennon

Happiness can be garnered through a lot of things. It comes from doing things with love and passion. For me it was football. It always brought a smile to my face.

In the years to come, I understood that my play on the field also brought about happiness to others as well off it. As a player, I had the ability to bring a smile to the faces of many. I had a power. With it, also came responsibilities.

As a player, I took those responsibilities seriously and now as a coach, I continue to do so. I have been lucky enough to play for some great sides and it has been an absolute pleasure to begin my coaching career here at FC Goa under Sergio Lobera.

I had experienced the passion of the football-loving people of Goa when I had played for Pune and now I feel the love. I strive to bring a smile to the fans’ faces.

We are right now at the top of the table having scored 21 goals in our first seven games. I hope to have played a small part in helping the team get to where they are at. I hope that all FC Goa fans are proud of the boys.

Their dream is to lift the trophy this season. My dream is to help them achieve theirs.

In victory or defeat, the learning never stops

Last time I wrote to you all, we were yet to win our first game. In the seven games since then, we have won five but also had to endure two losses so far. As a part of the coaching team, as Sergio says, we need to take full responsibility for not being able to put the boys in the best place to execute our plans.

Those have been tough nights for you.

We want to stand out even amongst the outstanding. We strive for perfection. However, on those nights we were far from perfect. We were not up to the mark.

The games against Jamshedpur and Bengaluru were big lessons for us.

We were without Coro in the game against Jamshedpur and I saw people stating that we lost because he was not there. But, can you really say that we would have won if he had been there? He is an important player for us. However, we together make FC Goa strong – our style of play, all our players and everyone behind the scenes, the names you might never hear.

And I believe, we will overcome the tough days and etch out a bright season. The boys we have in our team have displayed great character. They are not only members of this squad but menders as well. Whenever something goes wrong, I have seen everyone come together and rise together to fix it.

And that is exactly what we have to do again. Have trust in ourselves, in our abilities. An US needs to be grounded in trust. Trust is what helps you get through the toughest of times. We saw that against Delhi.

We are together.

Sometimes you never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have. We were not at our best that night, and then we showed how strong we can be. To be winners, skill and finesse need to be combined with grit to get past the toughest of hurdles.

It’s hard to be at the same level for every game. But in these situations, you have to fall back on your effort. That pulled us through against Delhi.

In victory or in defeat, the key element for us in this early period of the season is to learn. That is the key word for us. The learning can never stop.

Our home record and our fans

When we head on to the pitch we are confident. That confidence emanates not only because of our abilities but also from our fans’ presence in the stands. We know they have our back.

Unlike a lot of sides in the ISL, I believe we have a big advantage when we play at home.

Our fans not only cheer in our good moments but also know when the team needs a lift. The atmosphere in the stadium is amazing and I hope it remains the same for the rest of our games.

We as individuals may not be perfect. It’s hard to be. However, with our fans behind us, we have the determination to improve each and every day.

Their love and support shines through even when we are away. People travel such long distances for the love of football and the love of FC Goa. It’s amazing to see. I hope the wins in Kochi and Chennai helped make up for all the toil they had put in. We hope to repeat the same when we go to Kolkata.

With them besides us we can play football that seems like we are writing poetry. With them besides us, we can be the authors of the dictionary that defines us.

Making our fans smile makes me happy. I hope I can help them smile even more in the days to come. There is still a lot to be written in our story this season. We want to write it with the football at our feet and the smiling faces of our fans in the stands.