The ‘Coastal area World Cup’ is being held after a gap of 25 years

“Please keep your bike elsewhere. I want to see them play,” 70-year old Alphonsa, sitting on a chair in front of her house beside the football ground at Cheriyathura tells one as the bike is being parked. There is no option but to obey that spirited command.

Even amid the madness of the ongoing World Cup where their favourite teams Brazil and Argentina has been steadily progressing, this is one day the populace of this fishing hamlet has been waiting for, and has been working for. And, none of them wanted to miss any piece of the action.

On Sunday, it was the kick-off day of the ‘Coastal area World Cup’, organised by the Assumption Arts and Sports Club, a collective of the residents here. A tournament is happening here after a gap of a quarter century.

“In 1984, few of us started the first football tournament here. Back then, the beach had much more width and the ground was filled with sand. It required much more stamina than playing on this rough clay. The funds for organising it, then and now, came from all our pockets. The tournament continued until it ended in 1989, as most of our gang went to the Gulf in search of jobs,” says Clement Joseph, one of the founders of the tournament.

Even though the tournament stopped, evenings here were filled with football, as new players were churned out every other year, while others burned away. A local-level beach football tournament in 2001 was the only organised sporting event that happened here during this time.

“Earlier this year, a few of the old gang who have now come back for good floated this idea of reviving the old tournament. With the world cup round the corner, everyone was excited and the youngsters took over spiritedly. The trophies were sponsored by two families with the first prize of Rs.10,001 and second prize of Rs.7,001. Twelve teams from Anchuthengu to Puthiyathura are participating and we are giving all of them travel allowances too,” says Justine, one of the organisers.

Their only cause of worry is the sea which is eating up parts of the ground every passing day.

“Hope the government helps us with a proper seawall. We do not want this to stop again,” says Clement.