By Nandakumar Marar
MUMBAI: Goalkeepers attract attention on the pitch each time they go airborne, like this custodian has done to reach the lemon (football) at full stretch. Guarding the goal is only one of the multiple duties expected from them. Team managers want their goalkeeper to block shots, collect crosses from the wings, save penalty kicks and free kicks as routine work. New duties include operating as a sweeper-back and showing ball control like a defender to hit passes to the midfielders.
Indian football had in the past two goalkeepers, Peter Thangaraj and Bandya Kakade, both experts at launching surprise counter-attacks with long throws into the rival half or precise kicks landing at the feet of the teammates waiting beyond the centreline. The huge Thangaraj and the compact Bandya were ahead of their time, did their extra roles effortless and faultlessly and were an asset to the attack, while doing their specialist roles all the time. India was a force in international football, especially Asia, during the popular Thangaraj’s playing days in goal.
Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, wiry and acrobatic, is another famous name from Indian football’s glorious days. He realised the value of mind training via meditation and positive thinking and made a mark as goalkeeper for brilliant work under the crossbar, plus leadership from the back as the national team captain Indian goalkeepers currently in action emerged from the I-League and gained exposure in the Indian Super League. Subrata Paul, Amrinder Singh, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for example.
The last-named played in Europe for Stabaek club in the Norway league and is the first-choice custodian for Bengaluru FC in the ISL. Kolkata, Kerala, Goa produced goalkeepers in the past for Indian clubs and the national team, custodians are now emerging from Punjab and north-eastern India. For these football’s frequent fliers like Thangaraj, Bandya, Brahmanand and others who did their best to perform in each match of their action-packed careers, this is an appreciation, via vegetables arranged on cloth to depict a goalkeeper at work. Drumsticks, ivy beans, flat beans, lemon, carrots, small onions experimented with. Hoardings behind goal post are inverted visiting cards with cut veggies placed as design.