So here we are again in the quarter final stage of Santhosh Trophy 2013, a tournament least bothered by the football fans of India and even AIFF. The 2013 Santhosh Trophy is the 67th edition of the tournament and Kerala is hosting the national championship once again. The quarter final scheduled to start from Feb 22nd to be played at Kochi and Kollam. Kerala matches are to be played at Kochi where we expect the stadium to have capacity crowd supporting Kerala. Even the hardest football fan expects Kerala to be the crowned national champions playing on their home state. Kerala have appeared in the Santhosh Trophy finals 12 times and have won the trophy 5 times. From 1988 Kerala featured continuously 7 times in the finals of the national championship and won 2 times.
So is this the opportunity that Kerala football is looking for?
Kolkata and Goa has ruled the Indian Football for the last several years. The clubs from Goa have been winning the I League for the last five years. Kerala was not behind till recent years. Every Football fan in India will remember I.M.Vijayan , V.P.Sathyan, Joe Paul Ancheri and many more. They are part of the best talents the state has produced over the years. But what happened to Kerala football in recent years. We are regularly missing from I league. Our professional clubs are not able to match the cash rich Kolkata and Goan clubs. We look a mere shadow of our glorious past. Even in Kerala cricket is becoming the game. It’s high time that we think of revamping the Kerala football and produce the golden moments we once had.
We are passionate about Football. We can see posters all over Kerala during FIFA world cup. We celebrate the world cup as if it’s happening in our country. We have produced the first professional club of India, FC Kochin. We still remember the golden era of Kerala football where we cheered for Kerala police, Titanium, SBT. The 80’s and 90’s saw most of the Indian team fielded players from Kerala. But the graph is going down. Today no team from Kerala features in I league.
Need sponsors to run the show!
Football club cannot be run by well-wishers. They need sponsors. We need to find good sponsors and they bring in fresh ideas to the clubs. If there is a properly run football club, if they play good football, Kerala fans has always supported them and they have produced best talents. We need to identify the areas where we lack. Sponsors can be brought only when there is some sort of financial gain. Players need to be paid regularly. Nobody will risk his skills if he is scared getting his dues in the end. The clubs should not simply depend on the gate collections.
Professional Management and Fan Base
We need to learn lessons from the biggest football leagues of the world. I know it’s above comparison. But still we need to oversee the future if we want to see the revival of this beautiful game. We need to have professional state league in the model of I league. So that players are engaged all around the year getting more revenues through gate collection. This will bring more fans to the stadiums and we can see more competitive matches. We need to make happy the news fans as well as retain the loyal ones. This will attract more sponsors also.
Start small and earn big
We have seen many sports following the IPL model. Some gained but some lost. We have recently witnessed KFA following the similar path and conducting leagues. Rather than going behind money, the administrators shall focus on the infra-structure and developing the talents. There shall be professional leagues at different levels and age groups. Starting academies to develop talents and train coaches. Invite coaches and players from abroad to conduct training camps. Get support of NRI’s and expatriates. Use social media, internet and modern facilities to involve people.
Lack of professional and commercial vision
Utilize FIFA vision 2020 and provide a clear vision to the development of football in the state. We need to learn from the revival story of Goan football and how proper planning and vision helped them achieve what they have today. Better administration and encourage clubs by providing better facilities. Market your local leagues effectively. KFA has to revamp entire football calendar and conduct tournaments regularly. If the window is open all over the year, it will help players, coaching staff and the clubs.
Maradonna once said ‘Football Isn’t a game, nor a sport, it’s a religion.” As far as Kerala is concerned, it’s true we love football and we love to see the revival of this beautiful game. Let’s hope we win the national championship and set a ground for the revival to start soon and regain the past glory.
- Will Kerala be king at home? (thehindu.com)