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In Goa, playing football is not just for the fun but a way of life. One such talent is the young Velaine Fernandes, who proved her worth whenever any challenge was thrown at her.
Velanie is a fighter. She had to break all social taboos to do what she loves. Football is a passion that she holds dear to her heart. She's really going for her dream and there are obstacles in the way, but deep down she knows what she wants, and she pursues that.
In the interview with Fisto Sports Velaine Fernandes talks about her influences, her passion for the sport and her targets for the future.
To start off, tell us a bit about your early years. How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a footballer?
I started playing football at an early age of 7. I have always had a liking for the game and my liking aspired me to become involved with the game and ever since I’ve had one dream, becoming a footballer.
When did you begin to suspect a life-long love for the game was in the works? What was it that attracted you to football?
My brother Volney Fernandes usually plays in our locality with his friends and I have always enjoyed watching it and it was one day that I volunteered in playing the game and it was the moment I realized that was exactly what I should be doing.
Midfielder position is often seen as a maverick role, a bit like the drummer in a band! But you started as a striker and now playing as a central midfielder, how did the transition happened and what do you think it was that drew you to midfield in particular?
Yes, I started as a striker and turned to be a midfielder. Everyone in Goa knows me for my game and yes, I have they quality of passing, my shoots are like really hard and most probably I like to score from a set piece.
Who is your biggest support when it comes to football?
My parents, brother and my entire family have been my support system and I am extremely grateful to Maymol Rocky the Senior Women’s head coach, she has shaped me into what I am today.
How would you describe your style of play? Is there a player that you are inspired by?
Everyone in my locality calls me Beckham. David Beckham is someone I really admire. I’m known for my free kicks I bend it like Beckham.
What was the women’s football scene like when you first started playing and did you face any adversity growing up as a girl wanting to play football?
This was the question I awaited the most. To the most surprise some of the football coaches in Ponda itself discouraged me, they made comments stating I was too thin and there were other people who gave me the general Football is a men game advise, I’ve always wanted to prove them wrong.
Talk a bit about the coaches/team mates who have impacted your game right from your school days.
My best friend Aaren D’silva, has been my strongest pillar. He has encouraged me and has offered his help in all possible ways. I would love to thank all my coaches for providing me the right guidance – Sir Annie Paul, Principal of St Mary’s for supporting me. Sir Olav Gama, director of Carmel College For Women, Nuvem, Goa and Sir Aradhna, Principle of Carmel College For Women, Nuvem, Goa for their support. Some of my seniors like Laura Candice have also offered me their never ending support.
How do you prepare for a big game?
I prefer to rest before the big game. It helps me think and develop a better insight and I have better focus and determination towards the game.
You have represented Goa quite a long time but how did you feel when you first get called up to play for the national junior team?
I was waiting for this call and I was extremely happy. I have always wanted to make my parents proud and I’m really proud that they are proud of me. I was even more happier when I was handed over with the captain’s arm band.
Are you superstitious or do you have any pre-game rituals?
No, I do not have anything of that sort, I believe in God and I pray everyday.
What have been your major highlights/achievements in football?
I have represented India 5 times, Goa 15 times I have got many awards such as the best striker and the golden boot.
What techniques do you employ to keep focused for the full 90 minutes?
I think each minute, till the final whistle is blown is really important and being on the feet and fighting is really inevitable.
Away from the football pitch and training ground what do you enjoy doing?
I love spending time with my loved ones.
The Indian Women’s football team seems to keep growing as well as the popularity of the national side, how much do you notice the changes from inside the game?
Looking back, some years ago there was really nothing for women’s football, not even proper facilities but now we have been getting everything and women’s team coaches and staffs are really working hard behind it. One more thing is we girls need someone who can motivate us and I would say coach Maymol Rocky has it in her she’s the best I have got.
What motivates you, and what is it about football that you are so passionate about?
I always play to win and I hate losing. I love motivating other people and it motivates me too.
Now, you’re studying final year in Carmel College, what all are the tournaments your team won in 2018? And what important tournaments your team look forward the most in the starting year of 2019?
There’s only one tournament for college and it’s the university tournament and we Carmel College have won it three consecutive times and I was awarded the most valuable player of the tournament.
What do you do to reset your mental power to get back in the game if you’re teamdown 2-0?
As a captain, I always keep telling my players to fight till the final whistle is gone. I strongly believe that everything is possible and at any point of time I would insist everybody to fight hard till the game is over.
Do you have any favorite song to listen to prior to the game kickoff?
No, I don’t have any such.
Which is the game that you will never forget?
I scored two quick goals at the second half of the game against Royal Builders at the Mumbai District Football Association India tournament, we were losing and I scored a free-kick in the dying minute to win the game.
Finally, what are your hopes for your footballing career, is there a level you would like to achieve?
I have been waiting for a call from the senior women’s team, I want to fulfill my parents wish that I failed in 2016 when I was down with a collar bone fracture and Secondly I want to follow my role model Maymol Rocky to be a coach.