Read how super coach Joshuah Vaz has learnt all about life with a football at his feet.
He lives to educate and is making super strides in the sport of Futsal.
How were you introduced to the sport of Football?
I was introduced to football at the age of four by my Dad who used to take my brother, cousins and me to play at the handball court. So it was us against whoever else used to be there on the court, all the other young kids. So yah, it was Dad who introduced me to the game and also my Mom who watched the whole 1990 WorldCup , which was in June, just before I was born in August.
So, I think, I’d have to say it was my Mom and my Dad who were both influential in being introduced to football. My Dad was also a professional football player in his younger days, at the Vasco Sports CLUB IN Goa.
What impact has the sport had on shaping you as the person you are today?
I think what I am today is completely because of the sport of Football and Futsal. In the beginning till now, everything I’ve done in life, whatever I’ve learnt is through the game. So, basically I’ve learnt all about life with a ball at my feet. That’s a quote by Ronaldhino but it definitely applies to my life. In my school days I played a lot, scored a lot of goals, won a lot of trophies.
My Junior club career ( also the state team, the national team ) was also pretty much the same where I played and won a lot of trophies.
Post that, I’ve played for some top clubs here in Goa. I’ve played a lot of Futsal since 2011. I’ve also managed to play both football and futsal together as well. I went to Portugal to train at the age of 16 , that was a big turning point in my career. It’s taught me to be a lot of what I am today.
I am a coach, a coach educator and have been for the past 12 years. So, this sport is my life. It has played a very important role in the way I’ve shaped my career and my goals.
My parents never forced me to do anything that I didn’t love, they always told me to follow what I love, what I’m passionate about. The same with my wife, who has always been very supportive in everything I’ve wanted to do in terms of football and futsal.
Any challenges you’ve faced or sacrifices you’ve had to make?
I have faced a lot of challenges. To be quite open, there is a lot of politics in the sport of football. Many coaches kept telling me that I have a lot of potential to be a player at the highest level, to play at the ISL. Some foreign coaches also saw me and appreciated my talent, but unfortunately here I wasn’t given the opportunity and I don’t know the reason behind it.
Here in Goa, I feel there is a ‘crab mentality’ where people keep pulling each other down. I think we need to learn from this and definitely need to overcome it. We need to support each other, help each other and be there for each other to grow together. It happened to me and that has been a big takeaway because I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. These experiences have made me take things in my stride and help other goans to come together and make this state a great state for football and futsal.
This court is all about sacrifices. You need to devote a lot of time, a lot of patience in playing and coaching. So yes, I have made a lot of sacrifices. Sometimes giving time to the family becomes difficult, but I’ve learnt that it is important to give time to one’s family. If you’re happy and your family is happy, you can perform much better. That’s the mantra, the philosophy that I go by. I do devote a lot of time to the sport, I do sacrifice a lot of time away front the family.
Becoming a futsal coach educator was a big challenge here. Futsal is a very new sport here in India and a lot of people are vying to get their top position. I’ve been coaching futsal for the past ten years thanks to my Dad who opened up this academy in 2011. He was one of the first coaches to do the futsal level I, whereas I did my futsal level I only in 2018, but i was coaching and learning from my dad for 7 years before that. I was recommended by the LFC elite instructor to take up the position of coach educator here in India. I faced my set of challenges by people who didn’t want me to be there but my hard work, knowledge and faith saw me through. It still, even today, is a big challenge to educate people about what the proper sport of futsal is.
It is only after watching the Hero Futsal Club Championship that people have realised that futsal needs to be played on a flat and hard surface like a wooden court and not on artificial grass that you see all over India, all over Goa. These artificial grass pitches are meant for football, not for futsal. There are a lot of differences and it is a big challenge that I am trying to overcome and educate all the coaches who are coming to learn futsal. They need to understand the difference between football and futsal.
What has your biggest inspiration been?
My biggest inspiration would be to inspire others to do things rightly, that I’d say is my biggest inspiration. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to teaching and educating. The country really doesn’t know that much about futsal and that inspires me to teach people what is correct Futsal. Being the pioneers of Futsal, my Dad who started it in 2012 February and me being the first Level 1 coach educator for the country. I am inspired to teach and overcome this lack of knowledge about the sport that exists in India. I come from a family of teachers, so teaching inspires me.
I have been lucky enough to have the right teaching influences in my life and I’d like to pay it forward by educating the younger generation. For this country to develop as a footballing nation we need the right education and the right knowledge.
How was your experience playing and reaching the final of the Hero Futsal Club Championship?
My experience at playing the Hero Futsal Club Championship has been phenomenal. The first time such a big event is happening in India by All India Football Federation and for me to be part of it as a player and as a coach, it was an out-worldly experience. I got to play, I got to play, I got to score a goal and dedicate that goal to my son. Lots of emotions were involved. We got to play in the finals and we didn’t win there, but with a team of non-professional players to achieve so much, was fantastic.
For the first time in my life I played the role of coach cum player at such a big tournament. It is mentally exhausting and difficult but I did the best I could and it was a wonderful experience. I’m just glad the boys from La mercier club ( The futsal club that I have here in Goa ) got the chance to be out there against all odds and prove to the world that you don’t need to be a big name to perform. You just need to be given an opportunity, even a small one and you can definitely prove yourself if you have the right guidance.
What are your thoughts on the current situation of Futsal in India?
About the current Futsal situation here in India. As you might know, AFF has taken over futsal in india. That is a very good thing because Futsal has a formal way and has a direction. I am, as mentioned earlier, a AFC Level 1 Futsal instructor for AFF. Last year due to the pandemic we started with online courses, an introductory course which is a prerequisite for anyone who wants to apply for the Level 1 AFC certification.
I’ve conducted around 15 of those courses since 2020 Oct. Lots of coaches do want to get certified and get involved in this shorter, more fun game. I think Futsal is going to kick off in a very big way in our country after this Hero Futsal Championship that happened and AFF broadcasting it on Eurosports and also giving it the right coverage on other platforms.
This sport has definitely come into the limelight and has been noticed by many. Soon I think, what T20 was to cricket, Futsal will be to Football. We’re soon going to have more structure, more leagues, longer leagues. I am definitely going to do my part to educate coaches and
What advice would you give out to upcoming players?
To upcoming players, whether football or futsal, you need to work hard, train everyday. You need to keep a good check on your diet. The thing that Indian players lack is a check on their diet, so that’s very important.
Indians train very well but they don’t keep a check on their diet & rest. If you want to become a professional player, these are the things you need. Work hard, eat well, rest well and stay strong in your faith.
What has been the highlight of your sporting career?
There have been quite a few highlights to my sporting career. One would be winning the Royston Memorial Cup in 2003, in Belgaum. We were the first Indian team to win that trophy. I also scored against Brazil ( Unity World Cup ) in 2014.
And now to be a player cum coach and reach the finals in the first Hero Championship Cup here in Goa and Delhi. Also being the runners-up in this Championship would be a great moment in my sporting career/
What is the motivation behind opening the Youth Futsal Academy?
It was always my dad’s dream to have his own academy and to educate, teach and develop the players. Through his own style and not working under somebody else. So after he did his futsal course in Dec’ 2011. We decided to open the academy. Currently also the only PU surface in India. So, that was the motivation behind it, Dad’s dream and making it a reality.
How do you keep students motivated and focused?
We teach all our coaches to be very motivating and encouraging. We don’t discriminate, we teach kids of all ages, all abilities. Some may be good, some not so good. We always mix everybody, so that the ones who are not doing so well are always motivated to do better. The ones who are already doing well, we enter them in a lot of competitions.
We have a lot of internal competitions where we give out a lot of trophies and we encourage everyone to participate. Also we coach mentally challenged kids. We have conducted programs for kids with special needs too. We show them a road map of where they can be. I’ve seen so many kids get selected for FC Goa, to play for India and other clubs So the kids are very motivated seeing the results and that makes them work towards these wins.
What does your daily routine look like?
So, since it’s a family run club, my day usually starts with getting the paperwork done. Evenings are about training sessions, out of the two centres that we have. This happens between 5:00 – 8:00. I also conduct a lot of online courses on the weekends for All India Football. I don’t get much time to train myself , but I think in the future will try to make more time for that.
What do you do to take a break and take your mind off your hectic schedule?
To take my mind off work, I like to go on small holidays, but due to the pandemic that isn’t happening currently. I do like to play with my son and go out for dinners with my wife.. Caesar & Hatchi, my dogs are also stress busters. My favourite way to unwind though would be heading out for the weekend or for ⅚ days. We do go for some staycations here in Goa itself.
Philosophy or an advice you live by?
My personal philosophy and mantra that I live by, is working towards educating more and making better human beings. I believe that people shouldn’t remember you by the money you made but by the good that you’ve achieved. I try to be a good teacher, a good educator and a good role model for my students and for the people around me.
When it comes to the sport, the philosophy that we follow is the Barcelona style of playing and now with shavi coming up. As a player that is the same philosophy that I follow too. I like to practice what I preach, so if I’ve told someone that it has to be done this way, I make sure I do it first, These philosophies inspire others and definitely have them do the same.