In the Indian Super League, FC Goa have been one of the most successful clubs. The club reached the pinnacle of their success when they claimed the League Winners Shield for the first time last season. They have also finished runners-up in the 2016 and the 2018-19 seasons respectively.
A man who has played a huge part in the shaping of the club so far has been their Sporting Director, Ravi Puskur. He has been a part of FC Goa for the last six years, and has served as their Sporting Director in the last four.
Ravi Puskur spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview where he discussed the upcoming season, youngsters in the squad, and the overall philosophy of the club.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. You were appointed the Director of Football for FC Goa last season. Can you describe your journey in football over the years?
Ravi Puskur: I have been involved with FC Goa for the better part of six years now. I joined the club in a much smaller capacity and worked my way up. I have been involved in the technical operations of the club for four seasons now. I began putting the club’s philosophy in place along with the owners and shared their vision for the club.
We identified the coaching staff that we wanted to bring on board, the kind of talent, and started building a youth program that is fundamental to the overall sustainability and success of the club. We have been trying to steadily build on the performances of the youth team and continuously develop the youth players. And that's been really the biggest focus.
For us this season, it's been a year of transition where we've had a change in the coaching staff. We've also had some players leaving the club, some new players coming in, some youngsters getting promoted.
So it's a continual process, which has been happening across the past few months, obviously in tough and difficult times, where we've not been able to work in ideal working conditions. But we think we've done well to put our best foot forward and we look forward to the season getting started.
Q. This season has witnessed the club going through somewhat of a ground-up rebuild. What are your expectations from the side this time around?
Ravi Puskur: The expectations never really change. They have always been the same. FC Goa have been a club that has been hugely consistent over the past couple of years. Barring one season, we've always made it to the playoffs.
And this season, the expectation is no different. We do have to juggle two competitions this year, which includes the AFC Champions League. And for us, the focus is to ensure that we are not only doing well in the ISL, but are also making a mark in the ACL (AFC Champions League) too.
I think we have a very good squad this season. Juan (Ferrando) has a lot of options to choose from in terms of the playing positions across the board. And he's pretty content with the squad.
It was just about finding the right balance to ensure that we're giving enough opportunities to the players coming through our youth system. But at the same time, we also had to ensure that we deliver consistent success and results across the pitch. And we needed to do all this while playing a good brand of football.
Q. This season will see youngsters like Ishan Pandita and Phrangki Buam coming into the side. How much of a role do you think these players will play this time around?
Ravi Puskur: See, FC Goa have always been a club that's tried to champion the promotion of youth players into the first team. We've not been a club that's been spending and shelling out big transfer fees to acquire star players. We've always believed in the promotion of youth talent and we believe that given adequate opportunities, they can make a mark in Indian football.
The thought process behind having players like Ishan (Pandita) and Phrangki, promoting seven players from the youth teams, and also bringing players like Chote and so forth is always to ensure that we find talent and give them a platform to shine upon.
At the same time, the competition for places in the FC Goa first team is quite tough. There are a lot of established players within the team, a lot of good and experienced foreign players with a lot of quality. It is about a competition for places. The stiffer the competition, the better it is.
We believe that while you have youngsters and experience in the squad, it makes for great training sessions where the expectations of each individual and the demands that are placed on them are quite high. And we believe that also leads to a good training group and helps them to improve even if they might not be getting specific game time.
However, we have a coach in Juan who believes in giving you the chance and believes in the long-term projects. And we assure that at the right time, and in the right moments, he will be giving the youth a chance to showcase their talent and their skills on the ISL platform.
Q. What according to you is the philosophy and mission statement for FC Goa?
Ravi Puskur: It's pretty simple. To be honest, we want to be a club that's admired for playing good football. There's a clear ideology in terms of how we want to do so. We want to promote our talent at all given possible opportunities and also ensure that we're a sustainable club both financially and off the field as well in terms of the talent that we bring in.
We're not somebody who's an advocate of spending big money and unrequired amounts of money. We want to focus on developing talent and make ourselves a sustainable entity.Published 12 Nov 2020, 12:16 IST