Old friends Suresh and Julian happy to share the spoils

Union Bank of India coach (left) and KSA (Karnataka Sports Association Coach) coach Suresh Mendon

Football is a funny old game. Whether you believe it or not, it keeps its pursuit of making you believe it is. Football sometimes throws up some really fascinating match ups. Match ups not just in terms of teams playing but also in terms of the drama that goes with it.

Be it at any level, football will give you more than just the ninety minutes of action. Our city’s premier division threw up one such intriguing match-up which drew one of the highest crowds the division has seen in recent times.

On a rather warm Sunday afternoon at Cooperage, there was something warmer taking center stage. Suresh Mendon and Julian D’Silva old friends, team-mates and also colleagues crossed swords as Suresh’s Karnataka Sporting Association side were up against Julian’s Union Bank of India.

The two teams have a bit of a history as the teams have seen many players switch loyalties within them. With a common training ground, this match-up had more to it.

Suresh and Julian had been sharing the pitch, their employers and also a drink after every game for years gone by, so it was only fair they shared the spoils on the football pitch too. Goals at either extremes giving the coaches and friends a reason to smile not just for their team grabbing a point but also for a friend not leaving empty handed.

Football Counter caught with the duo who had turned from friend to foes and back to being friends in the space of ninety minutes in an exclusive combined interview. Some truly joyous moments were shared between the two with we being the beneficiary of their lovely friendly chat.

1. You played along with each other and have been a part of the same institution for a long while. How did it feel to be on the opposite ends today?

Julian D’Silva (UBI Coach): It is just for the ninety minutes. After that it’s normal, we are friends again. We belong to the same institution and share a different rapport with each other both on and off the pitch. Now the match is over and also the fact that it ended 1-1, we are relaxed.

Suresh Mendon (KSA Coach): The rivalry is only for the game. Even while playing the rivalry is only for those ninety minutes. In fact, yesterday we shared a jolly moment when Julian asked me as to on which side will I be seated. So we are good friends and whatever happens on the football pitch stays there.

2. Many of your players have previously played for KSA and now play for Union Bank or vice versa. How does it affect the game?

Julian D’Silva (UBI): If you see today’s game, the first half was a bit subdued. That was because both teams knew each other well and were trying to gauge each other. But in the second half, aggression was built and with the result in the mind we saw a lot more attacks.

Suresh Mendon (KSA): Their stopper Pankaj played for KSA last year and he now plays for UBI, so things like this are common and the players are used to it. As I said, all that feeling is just there for the ninety minutes, after which everything is normal.

3. So it’s more a case of friendship rather than rivalry between the two teams?

Julian D’Silva (UBI): Between the clubs, there are occasions when players crack jokes about the other team, but that is about that. On a personal level we are good friends. Gods are always watching and they made sure there is no rivalry between us by ending the game as a draw. But I am very happy for my friend whose team is fighting to stay in the division. I know how tough it is. We have never been relegated after being promoted to the Elite Division and its glad to see my friend do the same thing. Our principles are same and both of us like to have a low profile and let out football do the talking on the pitch.

Suresh Mendon (KSA): There is a brotherhood between the two teams. We play on the same ground and also we both are similar as me and Julian belong to the same school of football. So the relations between KSA and Union Bank are very nice.