Staff Reporter

The World Cup euphoria in Malappuram district has reached its crescendo with Friday night's kick-off of the month-long football carnival. "If we don't celebrate the football `mamankam,' nobody in the world has a right to do it," said a 22-year-old man from Kondotty, summarising the mood of an average youngster in Malappuram.

On the eve of the World Cup inaugural, football-crazy Malappuram witnessed rallies and road shows in most of its major towns. Flags of major football nations fluttered across the district. Vinyl hoardings of teams, particularly, Brazil, Argentina, France and England, sponsored by business establishments, were seen everywhere.

Many football lovers in Malappuram are on a month-long vacation to enjoy World Cup 2006. They won't go anywhere.

Night hours in Malappuram will be alive till July 9, with the young and old watching the matches in groups. Brand new television sets, bought with money collected from public, have been placed at many places in the district. It will be sleepless nights and days also would not be the same for them till July 9.

Betting has begun in earnest even before the group matches have started. The teams in the Group-16, the quarterfinalists, the semi finalists, the winner, the loser and the top goal scorer are all hot bets.

The days to come are sure to bring joy and mirth to a community whose craze for football is becoming more and more popular. Malappuram's football mania has already got national attention, with a few national dailies and magazines devoting space and time to it.

Malappuram has produced many a football legends over the years. In the State and national football teams, there would invariably be one or two from Malappuram. Malappuram also claims rights for having started the sevens football. The land and its people give a soccer touch to everything they do.