“Am a Brazil fan”, Shobhita didn’t finish her sentence before Anagha added, “So am I”. Rajila intervened and went gaga over the Argentine style while Aparna and Anusha joined her. Their bickering went on until their Physical Education teacher Dhanik asked “What’s wrong with Germany?” to a round of giggles.
As the World Cup fever grips the Malabar region, such talks are very common in every street corner in Malappuram. But these girls do not just talk football but play football as well. They are in fact three times runners up at the National Interschool Football Championship.
It was a hard-earned success indeed for the girls’ football team at Chandan Brothers Higher Secondary School (CBHSS) in Vallukkunu, Malappuram district, with lack of funds and training facilities playing a major hindrance in nourishing their talent.
Despite the odds, these girls have scaled great heights. Besides being National Runners Up in 2006, 2008, and 2010-11, the CBHSS team has had six members representing Kerala in 2013 and taking part in the national-level camp.
Sithara Harikumar was part of the national team two years ago while Athira, a 10 standard student of the school was selected to the Under 14 National team, but could not participate due to illness.
Aswathy A.V., who passed out of the school two years ago even received a gold medal for the best player in the State.
At present, the school has more than 50 former students playing for various State universities. In fact majority of them are now representing PSMO College, Tirurangadi, or Marthoma College, Thiruvalla. It was only in 2013 that nine out of 11 players of the Kerala State team were from Vallikkunnu.
‘The school team’, which is also the Vallikkunnu grama panchayat team, was formed in 2002. As an Under 13 team, they represented Kozhikode district until the Malappuram team was formed in 2004. The players are coached by Harikumar of the panchayat’s central sports committee and former Kerala Police goal keeper Ayyappan while a Sports Council coach visits occasionally.
The team is supported financially by the Vallikunnu grama panchayat and the school management. “There was funding from Kerala Sports Council initially, but it gradually stopped and we had to support our team by other means”, said Mr. Dhanik, the physical education teacher at the school.
The team trains at the nearby panchayat ground since the school ground is very rough. The panchayat ground is not good enough, as it was designed to suit volleyball. “We do not even have a permanent coach. The girls’ team actually does not get half the facilities available to the boys team”, he added.
“Despite all shortcomings, our girls have made us proud”, principal C. Krishnanandan said, the pride showing on his face.