Building on the Gentleman’s Game

An architect and a cricket lover, Gomakant Mahambrey highlights his professional journey and passion for cricket

Gomakant Mahambrey is an architect who works for the government and is also an umpire and member of the Goa  Cricket Association (GCA). His father Jagannath Mahambrey worked for the Forest Department in Goa and his  childhood was spent in places like Sanguem, Canacona, Valpoi, and Ponda. He did his schooling from St. Theresa of
Jesus, Canacona; Our Lady of Lourdes, Valpoi; A. J. De Almeida High School, Ponda; P.E.S. Higher Secondary  School, Farmagudi and completed his Bachelors in Architecture from Goa College of Architecture, Panaji.

Right up  rom a young age, Gomakant loved to play cricket. His father got him his first Hansford Hanfo cricket bat which he  would play by using a cork ball. Back then, he played underarm cricket with his cousins on the terrace of his  house.

Growing up, the matches in Australia, the Benson & Hedges Cricket World Championships in 1985 had a profound  influence on him. He played  cricket with his friends with a tennis ball every evening on their colony ground. In  those days competitive cricket and local tournaments were unheard of, and Gomakant along with his colony friends would play matches against the residents from the Electricity Department and Goa Dairy. During his school days, he thought of becoming an architect when he attended his uncle’s wedding in Mumbai. He saw the small living spaces in the big city and thought of the homes in Goa where space was available in abundance. “I realized the value of space – how people managed their day to day chores in a small space vis-a-vis Goa – where we had a room for  everything and this experience got stuck in my head.”

During the interview at  Goa College of Architecture Gomakant expressed his desire to minimize expenses while  providing affordable housing options to all, which  impressed the jury and he ranked 5th in the entrance exams, given his excellent performance in  the written exams, as well as sketching.

When working as a trainee during the final semester in college and later as a Junior Architect with Ramesh Kamat and Associates, Panjim, he was exposed to a lot of byelaws, rules and regulations in the   Town  and Country Planning (TCP) departments, which were strictly adhered to, and all this did affect his design style to a certain extent. He mostly handled residential complexes where he realised that interiors had to be given preference over exteriors. His principal architect, Ramesh Kamat who he called Bhau, always stressed on the judicious use of money and encouraged them to concentrate more on interiors rather than exteriors which would be of little use. However, says Gomakant as he began taking up minor works of his own he saw that people wanted the exteriors to stand out too. “The expertise  in byelaws was appreciated usually by the builders, while individuals who built a  house once in their lifetime, preferred aesthetics along with space. In both cases, minimalistic space having multipurpose uses was something both needed.”

When working on his own, Gomakant knew that one had to strike a  balance between the total cost and aesthetics and one can seldom follow the principles and design philosophies of the great thinkers / experts in architecture who have made a name for themselves. “You need to earn your bread and butter by touching the right chords of the clients, sometimes you need to accept their taste and small things  which are frowned upon in theory of design, go for a toss in the market.”

In 1999, he answered the Goa Public Service Commission (GPSC) exams and got a job in the Public Works Department (PWD), Goa although he had sufficient projects on hand. “There was no regular cash flow to run an office plus I could not follow cricket, which is my passion, as I had to work on holidays too. All this made me rethink my plans and ultimately my future.” He dealt  with various projects directly under the Chief Architect and as the people in the PWD were aware of his love  for cricket, he was asked to work on the cricket stadium initiated by the then President of the GCA at Guirim. “I  completed it by working day and night and over weekends. This was not only urgent but was also related to my final year thesis in architecture, which was on the National Cricket Academy, the model and report of which is still treasured by me.”

Gomakant was part of the Goa Cricket Association right up from his mid-30s when one has the time to follow one’s passions. The PWD Employees Association was registered as PWD Sports Club with the  Inspector General of Societies with due approval of the Law Department and the Government, with the help of Nitin Neurenkar and the former Chief Engineer of PWD, Joseph Rego. “We began playing regular cricket as we realised that there was tremendous potential in PWD employees’ and organised an intra departmental tennis and leather  ball cricket in 2011. The desire of Government employees to play more cricket was quite evident as we received tremendous response when we organized an Inter Government department cricket tournament for 3 years with PWD winning all matches by beating the likes of Sports Authority of Goa, which had professional cricketers.”

During a tournament, he met Nitin Roghuvir Pai and attended one of his seminars. Pai gave him a book and some notes on the laws of cricket and informed him that the BCCI was going to conduct exams for umpires. Gomakant attended his 5 day umpiring course and cleared the GCA State panel exams in July with 90%. He later cleared the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) exams with 94% in August 2011 to be empanelled as a BCCI Level I Umpire. “I began getting umpiring duties and my first assignment as an umpire was in November 2011 along with  Nilesh Naik at the Margao Cricket Club (MCC). I did officiate a lot of matches in GCA and also some private tournaments. I cleared the BCCI Level I Refresher Course for Umpires from Goa and Tamil Nadu with 94% by topping the exams in Chennai in June 2012.”

LtoR: V M Prabudessai (former Director of Sports), Gomakant Mahambrey, Santosh
Kamat, Dr Sagar Salgaocar (principal sponsor of Sarsangan Cricket tournament 2023-24),
Brahmanand Shankhwalker (Arjuna Awardee and former India football captain), Sandhya
Kamat and Chirag Naik (youth icon and sponsor of Sarsangan Cricket tournament 2023-24)

Later Gomakant began organizing cricket tournaments and annual  social days for PWD employees, with support from Principal Chief Engineer Dattaprasad Borker, which saw immense participation from all over Goa. “We came out with annual magazine, URBA for PWD employees, cricket quiz, singing competitions, etc. with help from Sanjiv Prabhu, Hyacinth Pinto, Deelip Dhawlikar and many more supportive employees. Then GCA sent me for the BCCI Level II exams in September 2013, which I cleared with 94.5% marks and the record stands till date as I was the only person to clear the exam from Goa. I also got umpiring  duties with inter-state cricket matches in the South Zone, the Goa Corporate League and many other private tournaments.” Gomakant has organized many cricket tournaments and sporting events over the years. “Before organising any event, one needs to have an aim or objective. I still remember the day when I was called to  officiate a community cricket event in January 2019, which served as a catalyst for me to organise such events for  the community. This gave birth to the Sarsangan Cricket Tournament and the aim was to provide a platform for the community to perform on a bigger stage and showcase their talents.

What began as a cricket event – developed into  various sub-events like the junior boys, veterans and regular cricket events as our Core team consisting of Santosh Kamat, Dr. Satyesh Kamat, Anil Kamat realized that there was enough potential and scope amongst the community which could be nurtured and showcased. Sarsangan, now in the 6th year, is an event which has come a long way with teams getting picked by auction of players, thanks to the support from various community members. “The players, both young and not so young, maintain a healthy lifestyle which serves as an inspiration to the younger generation. Players like Aditya Dalal have climbed up the ranks by playing at Sarsangan, and made his debut for Goa in the Col. C. K. Nayudu trophy at Sanguem.

Gomakant faced his share of roadblocks and difficulties especially  during Covid. “On the work front, new projects got shelved. However on the personal front, I began doing my Masters in Architecture  (Sustainable Habitat) andsuccessfully completed it with 81.3% before things got normalised. One needs to take a decision and make a conscious effort to achieve it. I received tremendous help from  Neelesh Sinai Zuwarkar who helped me while doing my masters.”

When it came to cricket, they had to stop the matches. “Later when the first wave minimised, we completed the matches successfully. The same thing happened before and after the second wave. It was one of the worst phases of my life, as on the personal front I lost my father and my fatherin- law within a period of one month, but life goes on.”

As a devout Hindu, Gomakant believes that God won’t throw challenges on one’s path without having something good come out of it. “Basically it’s  all in the mind, if you have a positive mindset, nothing is impossible. One needs to stop worrying about what people will think, you need to take a decision and stand by it, come what may. This has helped me achieve a lot in  life.”

Regarding his future plans, Gomakant says one need to take life as it comes and not worry much about the  future. “Whatever is destined is bound to happen; you need to play your role. One can’t satisfy all the people all the time. Success and failure are part of life, how one handles both is the key to perseverance. Time has taken a toll on  me physically and I need to adapt to the changing lifestyle as they say change is the only thing constant.

Now touching 50, I need to give more time to my family,especially my wife Sonal and two daughters, Kashvi and Kavya, who have been very supportive of me. I also need to give time to my mother and my mother in law. One should not stop when tired, but stop when done. I hope I can live up to the expectations of my family now,” he says.

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