This is a State that is keen to host the under-17 World Cup in 2017. An inter-academy league took off a few days ago in Kochi and the Kerala Schools Football League will begin next month.
The plan is to prepare a bunch of boys, some of whom would be ready to play for the Indian team if the country gets to host the FIFA event four years from now.
But strangely and shockingly, the State under-13 football championship final was played on a slushy government higher secondary school ground at Panampilly Nagar where the boys kept slipping and falling virtually every other minute in the one-hour affair on Wednesday evening.
“You can’t play any system on this ground,” said M. Peethambaran, the coach who guided Kerala to the Santosh Trophy title a few years ago and who currently heads the panel of coaches at the Thrissur District Football Association’s academy there. “You just have to touch the ball and run.”
Run they did, but often blindly as the boys splashed around and unsurely too as the ball suddenly went dead in large puddles of water quite often.
“It was very tough here,” said the Thrissur boys in unison after the final where they shocked defending champion Kozhikode 5-4 through the tiebreaker. For many of them, it was their first State championship.
“It’s very slushy here, so our game went for a toss, everything went wrong. Normally, we would have scored a lot of goals but instead we got hit today,” said K. Balakrishnan, the Kozhikode coach. “But we can’t blame the organisers, they have to finish the matches.”
Lack of grounds
The district football association officials blamed the lack of quality grounds in the city for the mess. “Where do we go, we don’t have grounds to play,” said a DFA official.
“We had planned to host this championship at the Maharaja’s Stadium but it had been taken for some other event, so we were forced to come here,” said P. Anilkumar, general secretary of Kerala Football Association.