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35 yrs after 1st attempt 65-yr-old makes World Cup cut

Panaji: In 1982, when the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) were selecting players for the World Cup at home, Carlton Gomes was pretty sure he would be among India's chosen 16.

Back then, he was an influential goalkeeper with the Railways—who he joined in 1973—and was heavily favoured to make the World Cup team. Carlton waited for a telephone call to tell him about his inclusion but when the final team was announced, he was pipped to the post by Mir Ranjan Negi and Ashok Dewan.

"I was at my best and in top form but talent alone wasn't enough. I had no godfather to push me into the team," says Carlton, 65, now retired and enjoying the sunset of his life in Margao with his wife and daughter.

Thirty five years later, quite unexpectedly, another opportunity knocked on his door. He now had another chance to be part of a World Cup—that too at home—but this time he was competing with 30,000 applicants from around the world. Carlton still doesn't have a godfather but it didn't matter. His experience as a player and stint as a protocol officer with the Railways was enough for him to get the nod as volunteer for the U-17 World Cup football in October.

"Finally, I have this chance to be at the World Cup. I am super excited," said Carlton, who has made Goa his home for the past 20 years.

The local organising committee is on the hunt for passionate people like Carlton for the preparation and operation of the four-week tournament, hosted in six venues across the country.

The volunteer programme presents thousands of people from all sections of society with a unique opportunity to be involved with Fifa's first tournament in India.

"This is not a small event. This is a World Cup and we must do all we possibly can to present the best possible picture of our country to the world," says Carlton, who will work with the operations team.

Carlton had to go through three rounds of interviews to be selected as a volunteer for the biggest football event to be held in the country. The interviewer, he said, put him at ease after the nervousness of possibly missing out on the World Cup, again, had begun to show on his face.

Once the interviews were done, Carlton walked out with plenty on his mind. Will he make it, or he won't? The wait was, of course, worrying, but unlike 1982, this time the call did come.


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Source: 35 yrs after 1st attempt 65-yr-old makes World Cup cut

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