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Brahmanand Sankhwalkar – The Legendary Goan Footballer who Won the Arjuna Award

Brahmanand Sankhwalkar is a legendary household name and famous in the Goan sports arena who had set a trend in the football fraternity of Goa by achieving milestones that no other player has ever reached.
Brahmanand Shankwalkar
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Brahmanand Sankhwalkar is a legendary household name and famous in the Goan sports arena who had set a trend in the football fraternity of Goa by achieving milestones that no other player has ever reached. There are many star football players in Goa but the name Brahmanand Sankhwalkar will go down in history as one of the pioneers of Goa’s Football fraternity. Brahmanand’s story is filled with lots of struggle and commitments, and the pursuit of excellence. 

Brahmanand comes from a background of football; his father and brothers were into football full time and all of them were star players of their time. “Goa synonyms with football: this is the only sport that was present in Goa in the past,” said Brahmanand adding, that from the time he came into his senses he has seen football around him. “My elder brothers were into athletics: not in 100 or 200 meters running but 5000 and 10000 meters and they were also playing football.” Brahmanand is the youngest in the family after 7 brothers and 3 sisters. “When I was very young and when my brothers used to come back from the practice, I was still in bed taking nap but could hear the sound of the football around me.  The ball always attracted me and when everyone would go to work the ball was always there on the balcao (balcony) of our ancestral house at Taleigao. I used to go and play with it, kick it, bounce it. I don’t know what I was doing but that fascination had always caught my imagination and as I started growing I gained more knowledge about the game called football,” he added. 

The Beginning of Journey into Football 

Brahmanand relays that it all started with his father taking him to football practice at Caranzalem Football stadium. “I was hardly 6 years old when my father started taking me along with him for the football practice at Caranzalem Stadium. He was one of the finest goalkeepers on the team that he was playing for. I had heard from others that all the fame and fortune that my father had was due to football. He was the star player of his team and was very skilled in his role,” said Brahmanand adding that his father’s achievements in football are marvelous and he went to become the president of the Goa Football Association at the age of 70. “Goa was not liberated then, he used to take me with to all his games, and that developed sort of interest in me to become a goalkeeper. I used to see the goalkeeper flying in the air to catch the ball and then fall down on the ground with the ball and this started fascinating me and by the time I was 8 years old, I started playing football. I don’t know what I was doing, just running around with the football, but I remember that I enjoyed every moment of it.”

Brahmanand Shankwalkar 2

Brahmanand started playing boys who were 10 to 12 years old and he would just run around and enjoy the game. “I don’t know what I was doing and my elder brother was very good,” the said adding that after the liberation of Goa one day there was a football match. “The Portuguese had left Goa and went back to Portugal. I was in 4th Standard, and when the opportunity of playing with the big boys came to me, I stood at the front of the line, paddy had still not dried, the goal post was set with two stones and my elder brother who used to be  the goalkeeper had a swollen toe so he told me to play in goal, and when we won the match  2-0, I had a completely different feeling inside me- it is indescribable but it  gave me a sense of accomplishment, and the journey that started that day continued till date.” 

Beginning of Training 

Since Brahmanand knew that he will be making football his career, the next step was getting good training under a trained coach and mentor and that is the time when he met Dr. Pinto from Taleigao who was the only doctor in that village then and besides being a doctor he was also the finest football coach in Goa. “He was one of the finest football coaches and he was also involved in other sports activities, such as bull-fights. He saw something in me,” said Brahmanand adding, that he used to go and stand at the goal post the moment senior players left, “Dr. Pinto saw me playing and he spotted my talent, he asked others, ‘Who is this boy?’ Soon after I finished my game, he told me that I have a future as a goalkeeper and he started teaching me football techniques. After that, every Sunday I would go and get goalkeeping lessons from him. He shared his knowledge with me through football magazines and he used to come, leaving his patients, to teach me.” 

The Opportunity

Slowly, Dr. Pinto started taking Brahmanand out of Taleigao, in his car to Vasco, trying to show him different games, in a pursuit to teach him more techniques. “Then the journey started. I  began playing inter-ward tournaments, and there  I met Mr. Anthony Bothelo, who used to represent the Panvel Club. During that time, Goa’s first CM, Bhausaheb Bandodkar, was funding the Panvel football club run by Mr. Bothelo. He saw my game and spotted the talent in me, and I must say that was the turning point in my life,” said Brahmanand adding, that soon he got the opportunity to become the goalkeeper for the Panvel Team. “There is a very interesting story that I would like to share with you here. I was in SSC then, and Mr. Bohtello told my brother to send him one experienced goalkeeper from Taleigao. My brother came to me and told me to go for goalkeeping and that Panvel is playing with the Saligao team. He said they are searching for a goalkeeper. I had no shoes so he told me to take his shoes, and when I went in front of Bothelo, he asked me ‘where is the goalkeeper?’ and I said it’s me. When I said that, I could see the sarcastic smile on the faces of the players around. He took me to Saligao, but to our surprise, the goalkeeper who was not supposed to come was there. He told me to go in the second half and I readily agreed after the match, he came to me and asked if I am ready to join the Panvelkar Club and to check that I had not signed any contract with anybody else. Then he took me to Fr Chico, another great footballer and mentor, who saw me and asked  my father’s name then he told Bothelo to sign me up immediately saying ‘He is the goalkeeper of the future

Brahma

The next morning Bothelo came to his school and told him to sign on the form, “I said I have already signed up with the Taleigao club, he said since my card is not yet done, I can sign for the Panvel Club.  I instantly agreed to it, and by afternoon my card was ready,” said Brahmanand adding that at that time he was just 15. “Soon after joining the Panvel Club (old Goa) I faced my first match with Goa Shipyard, who had stalwart players in their team. When I went to the goal post, I heard people whispering, why has Panvel club brought this skinny boy? I decided to prove myself and the match ended in a 6-3 victory for Panvel and from there it was no looking back.” 

The Panvel club kept playing and beating all the teams until they come in front of Salgaoncars. They had the best of the players on their team. “I was not sure how I was going to face them,” he said adding, he decided to face this challenge and prove himself, “I went through the struggle and blocked all the strikes and towards the end of the match, I grabbed the last strike without gloves and there was a feeling inside me as if I had won the cup. That match was another turning point in my life that reinstated my confidence. I played for almost 4 years for the Panvel Club, till the age of 19 and then I moved to Salgaonkars. In the middle, I also played for the Dempos. There was an opportunity of practice with the Dempos when the Panvel club was not functioning for some time.” According to Brahmanand, Dempo had better infrastructure and was more disciplined compared to others. I was about to join the Dempos when two of my mentors persuaded me to remain with the Panvel Club so I completed 4 years with them.” 

Brahmanand Shankwalkar 3

Brahmanand continued playing for Salgaocar after that and never looked back. “My father was very happy that Salgaocars called me. I stayed there for almost 17 years, played across the country for Salgaoncars, and all my achievements that I have done to date were on their platform. While playing at Patna for the Asian Games, I broke my arm. It was multiple fractures, but soon I returned back and appeared for the Asian Games and all this happen while I was with Salgaocars,” he said. 

Brahmanand has many trophies and medals which he earned during the 11 long years while playing for India. “I received the state award in 1977, Player of the Decade award while with Salgaocars and later on I joined Churchill brothers. I then worked for the  Sports Authority of Goa and then I received the Arjuna Award in the year 1998, which is one of the highest awards in the sports arena. Soon I was promoted to the post of Director of Sports (Coaching Cell) and in the year 1995 I  retired from football,” he said.                                      

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