Kannur may be losing its football tradition due to a variety of reasons that leave a sense of resentment, not least among football lovers who still feel that it used to be a game that brought the people together.
The World Cup beginning in Germany on June 9 has triggered a football passion in the district. A recent meeting of the District Football Association here to give a send-off to former Indian Football Association honorary secretary P.P. Lakshmanan, who was leaving for Germany in his official capacity as member of the Appeal Committee of FIFA, saw speakers reminiscing the football legacy of the district.
The football clubs that sprouted here after Independence are still there. These clubs Spirited Youths, Lucky Star, Brothers Club and Gymkhana Club
have not lost their popularity. Many of the great football players from the district were their products. Lack of grounds in Kannur, known for its vast esplanades, is cited as a major factor that hit the football tradition in the district.
The clubs as well as the grounds that are fast vanishing were said to be nurseries that produced great players.
`Kickoff', a tele-serial produced by the Junior Chamber, Kannur chapter, for telecast on local channels here on the eve of the World Cup, brings to life the football tradition of the district. The programme seeks to remind how the district that was once known for its craze for football later earned the bad image of a place of political violence. "The Junior Chamber has decided to produce the programme to highlight the fact that Kannur is a land having a strong tradition of sports and games," says Sreedip Purushothaman, director of the serial.
He was a football trainee at the Football Friends Free Coaching Centre (FFFCC), which has been rendering yeomen service to football by giving free training to school students.
The serial introduces football players and fans in the district who keep the tradition active in the district.
Many veteran football players from the district who dedicated their lives to the game such as N.T. Karunakaran, Lakhsmanan, K. Balachandran, Raghuthaman and Syed, to name a few, give their voice in the programme to lend a sense of nostalgia about the football legacy of the district.
The FFFCC, which completed 10,000 days of football coaching in December last, gets special attention in the serial.
Started 28 years ago as a modest initiative to give football coaching to young players, the FFFCC still survives against odds.
The goodwill the FFFCC has earned over the years has as much to do with the football tradition of the district as to the former players K. Kunhiraman and N.T. Karunakaran, who took the initiative to start it.