This I-League season, women to fire up football fever in Kozhikode

Gokulam Kerala FC to allow free entry for women to its home matches in the city

November 24, 2019 12:54 am | Updated 12:55 am IST - KOZHIKODE

Gokulam Kerala FC players celebrate their Durand Cup victory in August. The club is determined to bring more women fans to their home matches.

Gokulam Kerala FC players celebrate their Durand Cup victory in August. The club is determined to bring more women fans to their home matches.

Last month’s World Cup football qualifying match in Tehran between Iran and Cambodia made global headlines for something that happened off the field. More than 4,000 women had turned up at the Azadi Stadium to watch the game. It was for the first time since 1981 in Iran that women were allowed entry inside a football stadium. Before that, many women had still sneaked into the stadium, sometimes disguised as men, to watch matches.

Women in India though have never had such problems. But you won’t usually find many of them in most of our football grounds. Now, Gokulam Kerala FC had determined to bring more female football fans for their home matches in the I-League.

The city-based club has made entry for women free for all the 10 matches at the Corporation Stadium here. “We would love to see female spectators at the stadium,” Gokulam Kerala’s president V.C. Praveen told The Hindu.

“I remember seeing photos of many women watching football matches in Kozhikode many years ago. Women here are interested in football,” he said.

Contrary to popular notion, a large number of women in Kerala have been following football closely, especially during the World Cup. More and more girls are playing the sport these days, especially in places such as Kozhikode.

Women’s League

“We are pretty serious about promoting women’s football,” said Mr. Praveen. “We are the only I-League club to have a women’s club.” The Kerala Women’s League, which is expected to kick off this season, could be a boost to the sport. It will feature 10 teams.

“The league is a step forward for women’s football in the State,” Kozhikode District Football Association secretary P. Haridas said. Mr. Haridas recalled that a large number of women used to come for Sait Nagjee and other football tournaments. “We used to have separate stands for women,” he said. “It would be great if women returned to the Corporation Stadium,” he said.

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