“Football evokes great excitement, and grounds are where that gets translated into real talent. But it’s those very grounds we are missing now and till that is addressed let’s not waste time discussing the revival of the game.”
C.C. Jacob, the former Indian international who featured in the Asian All Star Eleven, nailed the hollowness of the World Cup frenzy in the State with those words.
He gave a long list of pitches in the city that once churned out talents but were since lost or became inaccessible to the game. “Bring in former legendary players as administrators and coaches,” was one of his solutions to make amends.
Olympian O. Chandrasekharan, who sizzled in the golden generation of Indian team, blamed the listless football authorities for the pitiable state of the game. “They neither have any idea nor make any effort towards improving the game by learning from the systems in place in top football playing nations. Even poorer Latin American countries boast of a better football culture,” he said.
Mr. Chandrasekharan fears that the popularity of the world’s most popular sport is on the wane in the State going by the thin turnout for tournaments these days, while wondering why the administrators never tapped into his expertise and experience to develop the game.
Victor Manjilla, who defied gravity to guard the Indian goal in his prime and later coached Kerala team to its second Santhosh Trophy victory, succinctly put the fading glory of Kerala football thus: “How many know the name of the current State players? The fact is that Kerala’s contribution to the national team is drying up and there is nothing to be upbeat about the State football.”
He put the onus on the short-sightedness of the football association that never thought beyond selecting senior team for Santhosh Trophy and teams for different age groups.
“We are living in the memories of a bygone era when Kerala produced legendary footballers. But we forgot that strong local teams contributed those players,” he said.