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Fresh kick-start to Kannur football


Veterans come up with a plan to professionalise the beautiful game.


Football fans in Kannur have something to cheer up. A group of veteran footballers are getting together for a game-changing initiative to revive football here.

“Today the game is on the decline. It is futile to go into the details. But it is important that this popular game is revived to its old glory,” say the veterans in an appeal to well-wishers of the game to join their endeavour christened ‘Revive Kannur Football', an idea mooted by C.M. Chidanandan, former captain of the Kerala State football team. The others involved with the initiative are former All India Football Federation secretary P.P. Lakshmanan, former Kerala Football Association (KFA) president P. Madhavan, former KFA vice-president C.H. Aboobacker Haji and District Football Association president P.V. Balakrishnan. North Malabar Chamber of Commerce president Mahesh Chandra Baliga is also associated with this project.

Mr. Chidananda has sought the views of veterans, local football clubs and district football association officials. A discussion will be held with well-wishers of the game and philanthropists at Royal Omars Hotel at 5.30 p.m. on June 23, the organisers said.

“It is important to understand that revival of Kannur football is not possible without professionalising it,” Mr. Chidanandan told The Hindu. “We cannot introduce a professional structure without a minimum budget of Rs.10 lakh for a club. It is a shame if we cannot pay our players a minimum salary of Rs.2,500,” he added. The meeting on Thursday would discuss means to bring in sponsors, he said.

Initially, the plan would be to professionalise the senior division league on a modest scale. The initiative will focus on seven senior division teams. The district football association will also be offered assistance for the revival plan which, according to Mr. Chidanandan, is a club-specific one.

The district has been known for its regular supply of footballers. The veterans are confident that the initiative will build quality clubs to absorb talented young boys when they graduate from various ‘football nurseries'.

Footballers have often complained about the lack of a full-fledged ground for daily practice. But veterans say exercises to build endurance, speed and strength do not need a proper ground. Any open space such as an athletic track, beach or even a paddy field is sufficient.

According to district football association officials, 28 football clubs participate in the district league matches. Four of them — Brothers Club, Spirited Youths Club, Lucky Star Club and Gymkhana Club — are household names in this town. The teams will be the focus of attention under the revival project for senior division league. Funds need to be raised in future for providing assistance to the first and second division teams, Mr. Chidanandan said.

Mohamed Nazeer

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