For him, the game of football spanned two continents and two countries. He played on two soils – that of Tanzania and that of India. Domnic Soares was a name well-known in the world of football, in part for being the ‘D’ of the deadly forward-line quartet ABCD of the Vasco Sports Club in the 60s and 70s.
Having completed his schooling in Tanzania, Domnic played for the Goan Sports Club and Wanderers Football Club, Dar-es-Salaam and the Cosmopolitan Football Club, Tanzania before returning to India and being recognised for his football skills. “I was always into football. When I was a small boy of 9 years, I was part of the altar servers team. I remember we had got a green and red ball and played with it after we learnt our doctrine. We did not require a playground; we played in fields even if they were ploughed. Playing football was an incentive to learn the doctrine,” Domnic says with a twinkle in his eye.
He played for his school team in Dar-es-Salaam and he says he played cricket as well even if he didn’t want to play the game. “They had a condition – if you wanted to play football, you had to play cricket too.” He went on to play for third division and then first division. “They had Arabs and Africans in their team; I was the only Asian.”
Even all those years back he was good, and though the youngster might not have had perfect control over the ball, he was quick – an ability that later contributed to earning him the title of ace dribbler, perhaps even being the best in India. He came back from Tanzania one December, on the feast of St Francis Xavier. When he went for a Liberation Day dance on December 19, he met a group of young footballers. “My neighbour from Dar-es-Salaam was also there and he told them I was a football player,” he says. The next day, even before he got out of bed, some officials from the Academica Football Club were knocking at his door (he didn’t even know about the football club then), and he signed their forms and went on to play for them for five years.
The Salgaocars were at Domnic’s heels to join their team, but he played for the Vasco Sports Club and stayed with them for 12 years. There he met the other three of the star quartet. “We did not realise that the first alphabets of our names formed the first four letters of the alphabet, until a reporter wrote about it. And then the whole country knew us as ABCD,” he says. Domnic was famous for his zero-angle goals, dribbling and scoring penalties. “My team mates wondered at my ability to score the zero-angle goals. Once a team member came and caught my shirt after the game, because he depended on my passes for his score,” he says, shaking his head. In 1968, Domnic played against the visiting Hungarian team Vasa Izo Club which played a series of exhibition matches in India and suffered its lone defeat in Goa.
After retiring in 1980, Domnic managed and coached the Vasco team, and later he coached the girls football team of St Theresa’s High School in Candolim, which won the inter school girls under 17 football title under his training.
“In my time there were some nice dribblers. Now the game is based on tactic, stamina and team work. In our days we learnt the game by watching films of the English premier league. When the Finals took place in England, it took two days for the film to reach Tanzania. I used to watch it on the projector in the school next to my house,” he reminisces
The Goan – Source