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