On foot­ball fields in Goa, ‘housie’ scores among fans

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - Mar­cus.Mer­gul­hao @times­group.com

Mar­gao: On the foot­ball fields of Goa’s vil­lages, as play­ers bat­tle for top hon­ours, there is an­other con­test hap­pen­ing among the ‘fans’ and even sub­sti­tute play­ers on the side­lines.

Among chai­wal­las and hawk­ers sell­ing onion pako­ras and coun­ter­feit mer­chan­dise of Euro­pean foot­ball clubs, there is also a small chit of pa­per sold by the tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers with num­bers printed on it — the housie coupons.

Tam­bola or housie is the lat­est craze, giv­ing the state sport of Goa a run for its money, with ‘fans’ trav­el­ling long dis­tances to try their luck.

Each coupon is avail­able for Rs100 or one can buy three for a dis­counted price of Rs 200 and pocket a pen free. The big­ger the tour­na­ment, the higher is the prize money.

The Chan­dor Sea­men Tro­phy, the sec­ond old­est in­ter-vil­lage foot­ball tour­na­ment in Goa, has Rs 50,000 at stake for the housie win­ner, and even be­fore the kick-off, the or­gan­is­ers have sold most of the coupons.

“There are many who travel here only to play housie. It’s a big rev­enue gen­er­a­tor for the club as well,” says club sec­re­tary Joy D’Silva.

With or­gan­is­ers ru­moured to have sold coupons worth Rs 2.5 lakh, the half-time break was ea­gerly awaited.

Here, al­most ev­ery­one gets in­volved. The sub­sti­tutes buy a cou­ple of coupons for them­selves, while spe­cial guests on the stage don’t want to be left out. Ev­ery­one pays for their coupons. Noth­ing is free, not even for those who have paid as much as Rs 1lakh in spon­sor­ship for the tour­na­ment.

Housie,

Chan­dor is not alone. At least two other lo­cal tour­na­ments — Cus­to­dio Memo­rial in Raia and neigh­bour­ing Manora Cup — have both of­fered Rs 50,000 as housie prize money, while most other tour­na­ments in South Goa of­fer Rs 25,000 and above.

The money on of­fer rises at ev­ery level. For first round matches, it’s Rs 3,000, for quar­ters it is Rs 7,000 and semi­fi­nals Rs 10,000.

With each num­ber be­ing called out, the ex­cite­ment grows. Once five num­bers are out of the box, ten­sion en­gulfs the air, as a win­ner may be around the field, some­where.

And if there is more than one win­ner, the prize money is shared equally among all of them. No­body com­plains.

For an in­vest­ment of Rs 100 or Rs 200, the re­turn of Rs 5,000 is in­cred­i­bly high.

“I at­tend most foot­ball matches to play housie. I am lucky to­day,” said An­thony Dias, one of the win­ners.

An­other win­ner, Joao Piedade Fer­nan­des from Quepem, also ad­mits he has lit­tle in­ter­est in foot­ball. There are win­ners from Varca and Fa­trade, too, some 16kms away, while from the 10 lucky con­tes­tants, only one is from the vil­lage.

For those who have missed out, there is al­ways an­other tour­na­ment hap­pen­ing in neigh­bour­ing vil­lages.

An or­gan­iser sells housie coupons to spec­ta­tors at Chan­dor

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