Salman Faris was at the frontline of the FC Goa defence in their Durand Cup campaign where the side failed to defend their title and couldn’t make it past the group stage. Although an underwhelming campaign for the Gaurs, Faris - at the age of 20 - showed promising signs of a quality defender and is a noteworthy name to be inducted into Carlos Pena’s first team.

Faris’s introduction to football is distinct and different from the usual footballers. The defender accredits his mother for his introduction to football. “My mother introduced me to this sport. She was my first coach as well, and deserves all the credit for my career thus far as a footballer,” spoke Faris to KhelNow.

The 20-year-old started his professional football journey with Bengaluru FC’s U-14 side where he spent two years followed by a move to Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) where the player represented them in the inaugural Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL). His performances in the RFDL earned him a move to the Goan side.

“The RFDL has definitely benefited several budding footballers including myself. With RFYC, I was able to get plenty of game time and I faced some good teams including FC Goa. This gave me a good picture of where I stand as a player when compared to others of my same level,” he added.

Faris received several offers on the table from various Hero ISL clubs but sighted game time and player development as one of the main reasons for joining FC Goa.

The defender highlighted the wealth of opportunities offered by FC Goa, which in turn helps him with the overall development of his game while also hailing the support staff for being helpful and supportive in his transition to being an FC Goa player.

“As of now, I’ve signed a contract with FC Goa’s Dev Team. With them, I already played in the Durand Cup – and later on, I’ll also be playing in the Goa Pro League and GFA TACA Goa U20 First Division League. In addition to these, I’m also hopeful of being a part of the team’s I-League Second Division and RFDL squads, if both leagues return to the Indian football calendar. Overall, I believe there are very few other clubs that promise so many opportunities,” he averred.

He also heaped praise on FC Goa starlet Muhammed Nemil for playing a small yet an impactful role in his signing.  “Finally, of course, my friend Muhammed Nemil also played a small role. When I spoke to him before signing, he gave me plenty of good reasons why I should join FC Goa, citing examples of his own development since becoming a part of the Gaurs,” he added.

The defender also shared his experience of playing in the Durand Cup and shared his reflections on representing FC Goa on such a big stage.

“We played against very strong sides in the Durand Cup. Mohammedan SC are an experienced side and regularly challenge for I-League honours. The Indian Air Force Football Team is physically quite strong, making it tough to outrun them during a full match. Bengaluru FC, obviously, is one of the best teams in India right now.”

“For me, personally, I went through some very big moments in the tournament. The clash against Mohammedan was my first time ever playing in front of a packed crowd. Against Bengaluru FC, I took on some big names in Indian football. The matches also gave me some much-needed experience at the top level,” the player concluded.