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Goans in Qatar: Fighting against all odds to preserve their culture and uniqueness

Fourth generation of Goans look forward to 2022 FiFA World Cup

Josiah Crasto and Mauricio Pereira have one thing in common. They are the third generation of Goans who have made Qatar their second home. A country which will host the football’s showpiece event FIFA World Cup in five months’ time.

Crasto and Pereira’s grandfather’s made their way to the tiny Middle East country in the early 60’s much before Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule in 1961.

Over the years many families like the Crasto’s, which has a tailoring business, and Pereira’s have cemented a strong bond with Qatar. But the Crasto’s and Pereira’s along with the 10,000 plus Goans based in Qatar miss Goa and the things which Goa has to offer on its platter.

And as they say you cannot take out a Goa out of Goan, keeping that in mind the Goan community in Qatar has had been trying to keep the Goan culture and the good things that they love most going in the Gulf country.

Konkani tiatr, is one essential back bone of the Goan culture and is one thing which strikes a special chord among the numerous Goans in Qatar, especially with those who were born and brought up in Goa.

With Covid pandemic a lot of things change here in Qatar like elsewhere in the world and the Konkani literary scene, in way of hosting and staging tiatr’s has been affected to a large extent.

“I stage my last musical show in February 2019 and a month later the world was engulfed with the Covid situation,” says Rose Ferns Jr, an actor, singer and play writer, who has been in Qatar since 1983.

Rose Ferns Jr, has to credit ten one-act plays, three tiatr’s and one musical show which he has written, acted and directed during his 39 years of stay in the country.

Recalling the Konkani literary scene in Qatar, he recalls that Goans in Qatar use to pool in their financial resources and bring some of the leading tiatr to Goans a few decades back, but the scene changed with the departure of a few prominent Goans.

“With the departure of Agostinho Pires from Qatar, there was a vacuum. Goans in Qatar’s were missing tiatr’s, to keep the interest going, we started staging one-act plays with local talent,” said Rose Ferns Jr.

Music and musicians form part of the Goan tiatr journey everywhere and Goans in Qatar are grateful to Agnelo Rodrigues has had been one who kept the musical flag flying in recent years, till his migration to United Kingdom.

His departure has left a huge void which the current crop is yet to fill in, the younger lot of musicians who get trained at one of the many institutes, are yet to shift gears.

There is no dearth of quality trainers in musicians and one of them is Lynette Dias, who has been rendering yeomen service by teaching the basic music lessons to many your children in Qatar.

Taking the music lessons, a step further, Goans love to break into a dance at the drop of a hat and knowing Goans fondness for dances quite a few organizations have been organizing dances on a commercial basis for nearly a decade.

If earlier, it was all purely social and charitable causes which the organisers pursued the situation has become purely profit making business.

Doha Goans Sports Club, Qatar Goans are a few Goan associations which were formed a few decades back and which have since slipped into defunct status. A few have survived the test of times, thanks to the rigid and closed door policies they pursue in terms of registration of new members.

Goan Welfare Association and Goan Qatar Association are the two Goan association active in Qatar pursuing an agenda which is laced with what they say has Goa, Goans and its interests at its heart.

Yet another thing close to Goan heart Konkani language is kept alive, if not in the homes and streets, but certainly during the Konkani mass at the Catholic church at the Religious Complex, which most Goans make it a point to attend on Friday morning.

But one thing which most Goans miss are the sporting activities centered around their own community boys and girls. Gone are days when the Goan football players crossed swords with English and Brazilian players and defeated them in the 70’s and 80’s. In the present age, there is no Goan combined team which can challenge the might of the Kerala footballers, forget about the Europeans and South Americans.

No one can pinpoint the exact reasons for the decline of Goan football in Qatar. But one fact is that there used to be lot of inter-village tournaments for Goans in Qatar but that have died a slow death and with that the talent pool has also vanished from the football radar for the Goans.

But there is glimmer of hope in football with the like of Justino Camilo, a Cuncolim-born 16-year-old who is part of the Qatar under-17 team and has been enrolled in the state-of-the-art Aspire Academy training centre. Elsewhere on the sporting front, Nishant Shenoi is one junior player who is ranked among the top three players based in Qatar and has won many a tournament.

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