One would’ve thought that 89 is well past the age of retirement. But, far from hanging up his boots, T. R. Govindarajan now shoulders the responsibility of amending the TFA constitution
Age does not wither one’s passion for a sport. Ask T. R. Govindarajan, former secretary, Tamil Nadu Football Association, who has been associated with the sport’s administration in various capacities for close to five decades. Govindarajan turned 89 just a few days ago but that has not deterred him from taking on fresh responsibilities. He now shoulders the burden of re-drafting the TFA constitution to bring in all the amendments in line with the national body and in keeping with the recommendations of the Asian Federation. For Govindarajan, the job is not new. He has done it in 1995 but what’s significant is he continues to show the same enthusiasm and eagerness as before. Knee problems do not allow him to move about freely, so he rarely steps out. But that has not snapped his connection with the football world. “People call me, many visit me and that ensures I am in touch with the happenings in the sport at the city and state-level,” he said.
Five years ago, as he left the portals of the TFA, there was talk of the districts taking over the reins of the sport. Govindarajan could leave the State body, proud that he had put it on a sound footing. He is also associated with Netaji Club, the only private club to have consistently served in the top division league in the city for almost 60 years. Many players, referees and administrators started their careers in this club and needless to say Govindarajan’s influence on them was profound. C. R. Visswanathan, former TFA president, concedes that though his roots were not in Netaji his long association with Govindarajan proved to be immensely advantageous in his early years as a football official. “The way he guided me when I was new to the task of administration and his timely advice influenced me a lot. He is truly a pillar of Tamil Nadu football,” he added.
A national referee once and chairman of the national referees committee for more than half a decade, Govindarajan could spot an efficient official and that is partly the reason for Tamil Nadu coming up with good referees at the national level. K. Sankar, for instance, is the only one in India to officiate at the World Cup.
But has all this made him a contented man? Far from it; Govindarajan rues the fate of the football associations in the state, particularly the Chennai association, a once vibrant unit which is now ensnared in legal issues. That the CFA today is in the hands of an ad hoc committee saddens him and he feels it is a consequence of the failure of all right-minded people to find an amicable solution. Govindarajan had aired his views in open letters hoping for wiser counsel to prevail. But his wait continues. “I am too old now to dream, yet it is my wish that before I close my eyes, I will be able to enjoy football in Chennai like those early days when watching the game used to be not just fun but invigorating as well,” he signs off.