A couple of weeks back, Parma - a club who was demoted in the third division of the Italian Football League in 2015, gained a remarkable three straight promotions to make a historic return in the top-flight football. The football fraternity celebrated and embraced each and every moment after witnessing an impeccable feat. JMJ Sports Club, a club plying their trade in the MDFA League, achieved something similar a couple of months back after defeating Mother Teresa Foundation 1-0 in the Second Division playoffs final to gain back-to-back promotions.
Though it is not healthy to compare an International Club with a local club, the focal point here is to give them the credits they rightfully deserve. And, here we are, having a brief conversation with JMJ Sports Club's Managing Director Francis D'Silva.
Speaking about JMJ's experience and journey from Third Division to First Division, Francis D'Silva said: "Through the blessings of JMJ, we have earned a promotion year after year from Third to Second Division and now in the First Division of the MDFA League. Our respectable coaches Roy Fernandes, who is also my brother in law, and Michael D'Silva, a long-term family friend, agreed to take on the task of selecting and coaching JMJ Sports Club."
"We decided to start from the lowest division to gain experience. Both Roy and Michael are Junior India players and they have also played senior division for Union Bank of India (UBI) in the erstwhile MDFA League and even represented Maharashtra. Besides, Merwyn Fernandes, my nephew, also contributed in as a player, coach, administrator, finance and operations head," Francis delightfully discussed the management hierarchy.
It is quite remarkable to see a club run by 'one passionate family'. No wonder JMJ has kept on growing with the sole objective to gain experience and move step-by-step. In the upcoming season, they will fight for a place in the Super Division in the quest to achieve unthinkable.
Managing Director Francis continued: "These three stalwarts of the team are my comfort factor and the main reason for me taking the decision to start JMJ SC. Since I live and work in Bahrain, I am away from the action but they make my life easy by taking control of JMJ SC which leaves me in calmness and relaxes. Till now the journey has been very smooth with a very minimum of hurdles but in the upcoming season, we expect stringent competition to maintain our past records and as well as qualification for the Super Division."
To sustain a club has always been a big task, especially in Mumbai. But the Managing Director cited otherwise. He admitted that in the last couple of seasons, there were hardly any barriers due to the strong and united core management.
"In the past two seasons, there were no barriers that I can think of because we have a strong management team and very energized and committed players. The only challenging times were when players could not come for the games due to work commitments. In fact, we got unanimous support from Mr. Sudhakar Rane (MDFA Vice President), Mr. Udayan Banerjee (MDFA Hon. General Secretary), and Mr. Amit Yadav from Football Counter whenever needed. As a Journalist, Mr. Gordon DíCosta also has been encouraging in promoting JMJ SC by covering all our games," Francis D'Silva admitted.
When asked about the best moment, Francis said: "Before moving to JMJ SC, most of our players were not paid to play by their earlier teams. I could not digest this fact since the players besides their passion invest their time and energy to form the backbone of the team along with the Coaches. From day one, I made sure that each player gets paid on time when they came for the game, irrespective, of the player being part of the playing eleven or not. The sheer joy on their faces, their commitment towards the team and the friendly banter between them are the moments I have cherished the most."
This is exactly how a professional clubs run. Payment on time thrives as the motivational factor for the players and as well as the coaches. It creates encouragement, unity, and transparency among the whole team.
"My first objective after the foundation of the club? My first discussion with Roy was an informal chat which ended up with us taking a decision to put up a team. Our short-term goal was to qualify year after year to the higher division with a long-term vision of having an I-league team. But more importantly, I wanted to lay a foundation for players to have access to a quality team and management, thus, giving them a platform to showcase their talent and passion for the beautiful game while being paid for playing," Francis said.
"With each promotion to the higher division, we have to make room for new players while the old players will always remain a part of the JMJ SC Family. From this season onwards, we are more skewed towards blending youth and experience in the team. Our coaches are working on newer strategies which will be revealed in time for the new football season," Francis D'Silva responded after being asked about JMJ's next strategy for the upcoming season.
"My whole take of this season? For JMJ SC, we have been showered with blessings to be title winners for two consecutive years. I am pleasantly surprised with the progress that MDFA has made in promoting and spreading the game. A salute and heartfelt gratitude to Chairman Shri Aaditya Thackeray and his board members for their time, effort, insight and vision. With each season the MDFA League is getting better and bigger. For sure, more can be done as we move slowly but surely in the right direction with the goal being to promote Football always and in all ways," JMJ's Managing Director concluded.