As monsoon picks up and tourist activities cease on the shoreline, football enthusiasts have started to throng Goa beaches turning them into mini football ground.
During monsoon, the temporary beach shacks are dismantled and commercial activity on the seashore ceases, leaving the entire coast for the soccer lovers to take over by dusk for playing Goans favourite game.
While spate of incessant rains around Calangute beach has crippled the normal life, it has not stopped local youths from kicking the ball on the sands.
"It's a fun to play football on the beach than on the ground. Here you can dive and play without the fear of getting hurt. It is crazy," said 30-year-old Joel Afonso, who works as a manager for a three-star resort.
He says being tourist-lean season, there is no much work at the resort and he can spare some time to play his favourite sport.
Afonso is among several youths in Calangute who have grown up playing football on the main ground of the village and shifting the game to seashore during monsoon.
Calangute village has produced football veterans like Bruno Coutinho, who was skipper of Indian team for around one-and-half decade.
"I still remember running in waist-deep water in the sea to increase my endurance during my initial days of the career. If you play on the beach, you get fitter. Fitness is the key of success in this game," Coutinho told PTI today.
The former Indian captain, an Arjuna awardee, still prefers to kick a ball on the beach whenever he gets time.
"It is the fun and fitness that you get when youplay on the beach," he said.
Back in Panaji, Miramar beach has been witness to the
tough practice of India's former goalkeeper Brahmanand Sankhwalkarfor decades now.
Sankhwalkar, who lived in Taleigao village near Miramar beach, went on to become Indian football team captain between 1983-86.
Reminiscing old days when he used to play football at Mirmar beach, Sankhwalkar syas, "I used to play football on Sunday mornings with engineering and medical college students on Miramar beach. Two coconut trees acted as goal post."
He recalled that even while heading the Indian team, playing football on beach in rains enthused him.
At the age of 62 now, even today he prefers to kick a ball or two on the beach during rains.
"Till date, I go to play on the beach during monsoons. The soft sand helps you build muscles required for this game," he said.
Every evening, Miramar becomes host to soccer enthusiasts from different walks of life who come to play the game.
"This is the biggest relaxation me and my friends get after day's hard work. We have been playing at Miramar since childhood and during rains, it is heavenly to play here. You don't have to get worried about hitting any tourist when you shoot the ball," Raghav Desai, an IT professional working in Verna industrial estate, said.