Panaji: Football has finally begun to excite Indian audiences thanks to the buzz surrounding the Indian Super League (ISL), according to FC Goa assistant coach Arthur Papas, who also claims that marquee players like Frenchman Roberto Pires would leave a long-lasting legacy in Indian football even after they leave.
Australian coach Papas, who moved to India two years ago on a coaching stint also said that it was a treat to watch the legendary Zico at work and that Arsenal’s Andre Santos was a player to look out for during the 71-day tourney.
“I’ve been in this country for two and a half years playing in national leagues and I-League, but I haven’t felt this sense of excitement about a competition before. We haven’t had the most time to prepare as a team but there’s a lot of excitement on the part of the team and we really want to go on the field and put a really good performance for Goa,” he said.
The buzz he says is a good sign, but having stadiums full of football lovers actually watching the game is the necessary icing on the cake.
“I just want to see a packed stadium and people supporting the team no matter what. That’s what happened at the opening match. That’s probably what is lacking at the I-League because we have really good teams playing but large crowds don’t turn up. I want to see Indian football to be able to keep going on. A packed stadium will improve the product you see on TV all around the world, not just in India,” he explained.
Asked about his experience working in the ISL as an assistant to a legend like Zico, Papas described the Brazilian master as someone who is humble, despite his experience as both player and coach.
“I really appreciate the kind of effort he is putting in to try and make the team successful. There are a lot of things from the management point of view too, which includes the day to day running of how he deals with the owners and how he deals with the players," Papas said.
"I feel privileged to learn from someone who has dealt with bigger clubs before and has been in the spotlight pretty much all his life."
Former Arsenal star Roberto Pires is the consummate professional according to Papas and a real joy to work with.
“He’s experienced football at the highest level possible, internationally and club wise. Even while interacting with young players from the Dempo team, he talks to them about his journey in his football career and that professionalism is something that we haven’t seen in this country."
"It’s something that you need to tap into as much as possible. When Pires leaves India, there will be a long lasting legacy left behind,” Papas said.