With the State Association revived, and a team being sent for the prestigious Santosh Trophy, football lovers can hope for better days ahead

For only the second time in 14 years, Andhra Pradesh will be fielding its team at the prestigious Santosh Trophy national championship (South Zone) to be held in Chennai later this month. And this is thanks to the efforts of the newly-formed A.P. Football Association and its president senior bureaucrat Mohd. Ali Rafat.

Interestingly, about 100 footballers from across the State took part in the selections held under the purview of Dr. Rafat (chairman), B. S. Venugopal (SAI coach), Yedukondalu (Central Excise), Venkateshwarlu (Konda) and Basheer Ahmed (CCOB).

The Gymkhana Grounds, which hosted many a memorable battle in the once-famous A-Division Rahim league championship till the early 90s, might also regain its importance as a major football centre if the efforts of the APFA continue in the desired direction.

“We are going to revive the Rahim League (named after one of India’s finest-ever football coaches S. A. Rahim). The whole objective is to see that young talent has a platform and can dream big in football,” says APFA secretary G.P. Phalguna.

Not long ago, players, coaches and football aficionados were wondering how to take the game forward when it had not so much as an association to send a State team for the nationals. With the new body in place, players and football lovers can hope for better days ahead.

“It is important to send players for the nationals as it enables players to get decent jobs in public sector banks and various Central Government organisations,” points out State Bank of Hyderabad coach E. S. Shyam, who had played a key role in his organisation recruiting eight players recently.

The APFA has pruned the list of players to 30 and most hail from the city.

“There is no point in harping on the glorious past of Hyderabad football and do nothing about the promotion of the game. We want to be positive with regard to players’ interests,” affirm top APFA officials, insisting that warring days between different groups is a thing of the past.

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