Football is not just a sport but a way of life or a passionate religion for many in the state of Kerala. Football fever that grips the state during various national and international football events is something beyond the scope of expressions. Now the soccer loving malayaless have something more to cherish about this game as the first indoor soccer futsal academy in the country will be opened in Kodungallur.
Though this miniature version of football, which is commonly played on smaller indoor pitches is popular in many countries around the world, it is something new in India. Many international football players play Futsal to fine hone their footballing techniques and it has been a popular game in western countries for over 20 years.
To promote this interesting game, the Union Sports Ministry is planning to start the first ‘futsal’ pitch and the country’s first dedicated coaching centre on the Kunji Kuttan Thampuran College campus in Kodungallur at a cost of around 1 Crore. This latest facility is expected to be operational from next year. A synthetic turf that is 42 metres long and 18-22 metres wide with special shock absorbing capability is being set up as part of the project. The indoor futsal pitch will also have all the other facilities like floodlight, changing rooms, cage netting to separate pitches and refreshment counters will.
Futsal is the only form of indoor soccer certified by the FIFA. Both the teams will have five members each including the goal keeper and the game will be played on a court that is similar to the size of a basketball court with a smaller, heavier low-bounce ball. The game will have two halves of 20 minutes each with touchline boundaries and without walls. The goal post is also smaller than that used in normal football.
Futsal is more interesting than its counterpart as the players get to be in contact with the ball more when compared to football. Once Futsal gets popular in Kerala, it is likely to become the latest craze in Kerala. With open fields fast disappearing , Kerala might need something innovative like indoor soccer pitches where the youth can indulge in the most popular game of Kerala. Let us wait and watch whether this miniature game will steal the thunder from under the nose of its bigger cousin in the days ahead.
P T Usha, popularly known as the Payyoli Express has not run out of steam even after 32 years since her maiden Olympics sojourn at Moscow in 1980, on July 25. It is praiseworthy indeed that this Indian sprint queen is making a comeback in London Olympics in the role of a coach after clocking many milestones in athletics. While the mega sports events like Olympics remain a distant dream for many Indian sports persons, the achievement of P T Usha deserves special mention. From being a shy girl from Payyoli village in Kerala who made her debut in athletics at the age of 16, Usha has indeed come a long way to become one of the most celebrated names in Indian athletics. Her sheer grit and perseverance has always influenced the budding sports persons in the country.
It will be a proud moment for India when Usha will be making her debut as coach in the London Olympics on August 8th when her protege Tintu Luka will be competing in the 800 m event. Making a nostalgic second comeback at the age of 48, Usha will have a lot to be proud of at this achievement. After an illustrious sports career , Usha continues to be actively involved in sporting activities by setting up a sports school to train the aspiring athletes who do not get enough opportunities to showcase their talents. By handing over her baton to a well groomed line up of proteges like Tintu Luka, Usha has become a role model, striving to keep up the sports credentials of this great nation.
The football crazy populace of Kerala could not have asked for anything better. Real Madrid CF, one of the most prestigious football clubs in the world will be setting up a football school in the city of Kochi as part of their ’social-sports academies’ initiated by the Real Madrid Foundation all around the world. Real Madrid has a substantial fan following in this tiny state of Kerala, which makes this venture all the more special.
The KFA Secretary confirmed that the Panampilly Nagar Sports Hostel will be the venue of this sports academy. All the latest amenities like artificial football turf, swimming pool and a multi-purpose gym will be added on to ensure the best facilities for the aspiring sports persons. This institute will offer the best training facilities to the talented youngsters under the watchful eyes of professional coaches and experts.
Real Madrid is planning to take up similar projects in other parts of Kerala too, as part of their socio cultural awareness programmes. Apart from sports activities, Real Madrid also takes up various social welfare and cultural activities through which they reach out to the society. Their first project in Asia was in Kheadah, West Bengal, which offers education to over 150 students in various age groups between 7 and 15 years.
This state of the art football academy will indeed be a fitting tribute to Keralites love for football that has stood the test of time and the cricket fever gripping the country.
The name of Hamsa koya and Indian football go hand in hand. He is not an yesteryear player nor a referee but he holds the rare distinction of being the maker of goal post nets for over 20 years! Hailing from Malapuram, in North Kerala where football continues to be the passion of the local populace even today, Koya has been making high quality nets to the envy of many international brands.
His goal post nets have been used in many international football tournaments including the SAF cup and the Nehru Cup apart from countless league matches that are held every year in the country including the I-League championships, which are currently on. The special twines made from nylon and rope, traditionally used for making the fishing nets make the nets sturdy and he claims that these last for over a decade.
Koya keeps on his pursuit for excellence though the same level of enthusiasm seems to be to lacking for the Indian football team that has been in the news for its appalling levels of performance!
Welcome to Parunthumpara, a virtually unexplored trekker’s haven, near Peerumade where you can chill out , indulge in a spell of adventure sports or soak up the breath taking views of the endless grass lands and valleys beneath. A perfect choice for family holidays and fun seekers alike, Parunthumpara is a hill station of considerable tourism potential .
Though Parunthumpara is only six km from Peerumade on National Highway 220, it has remained obscure and away from the mass tourism trails for long. Now it has evolved to be a favorite stopover for tourists who are on their way to Thekkady, who stop by to enjoy the spectacular views and to have some fun and adventure. On a clear day, the visitors can see a panoramic view of the Sabarimala forests from Parunthumpara and this makes it quite popular among the Sabarimala pilgrims who congregate here to witness the makarajyothi.
Easily accessible through the narrow ghat road from Kallar Junction, this hill station stands out for its sprawling grasslands where the families can enjoy a few quiet moments, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. A perfect choice for those who wish to have a holiday off the beaten track and to explore the unseen and the unexplored beauty of the pristine forests around, Parunthumpara has been attracting a large number of domestic tourists during weekends.
Though the place is yet to leave its imprints in the tourism map of the district, this beautiful hill station of
Parunthumpara holds great promise for adventure sports.The District Tourism Promotion Council has chalked out plans to develop Parunthumpara as a hill station and a handy stopover destination for tourists who come from Kumarakom to Thekkady. If some basic facilities can be provided, Parunthumpara can be developed to be one of the most popular tourist spots in Kerala in the days to come.
Soon on the trails of the euphoria and jubilation of the world cup win and the cricket frenzy that was brought live to millions of homes all over India, Kerala was struck by another spell of cricket fever in the form of the keenly contested IPL matches. What more, the commercial capital of Kochi also got a team on its own in the form of Kochi tuskers with some of the popular players like Mahela Jayawardane ( captain) ,Brad Hodge, Brendon McCullum, Ravindra Jadeja and Parthiv Patel among others including the local celebrities like Sreesanth and Raiphi Gomez in its list .
Named after the state animal of Kerala, the Asian Elephant, Kochi Tuskers has indeed come back to the game with a bang by winning the last two matches against the hot favorites Mumbai Indians and Chennai super Kings. The glitz and glamour of the tinsel world, the cheer leaders and a highly appreciative crowd have all gone in favour of the home team in a big way. However, the gallant march of the tuskers in Kerala is likely to be cut short if the latest reports are any indication.
The exorbitant entertainment tax and the high ticket rates, which resulted in a low ticket sales have prompted the owners of the team, the Kochi Cricket Pvt Ltd( a consortium of six companies) to reconsider their option of keeping Kochi as one of their venues. The team management has expressed its concerns to the Corporation and the State govt, which they feel is not extending the much needed support for them.
So, if things will not change in their favour in the next few days, Kochi Tuskers might go ahead with its plan to request the BCCI to move Kochi’s IPL matches out of Kerala the next season. If that happens that will be a rude shock to the countless hardcore cricket fans of Kerala, who have got a life time opportunity to watch some of their favorite cricket stars perform live right in front of them through the IPL matches. Hope the IPL dream of Kerala does not get smothered in the tangles of the red tape bureaucracy like many other projects in Kerala that met with an untimely end!
I was hoping to catch some Malayalee men and women do their best as Kerala has consistently sent women athletes for events. The stadium was packed except for a few stands kept reserved for probably the players and families. And those are the stands that come up empty on TV screen as they are right behind the medal-distribution podium.
Security was tight, only small purses allowed, no cameras, no bottles of perfumes, lotions, drinks , no food allowed in- not even water. All coins had to be put in a box for the Cancer patients. Next you get frisked and you had to show your ticket high to enter, and in the queue people come and ask you if you have extra tickets while you hold your much coveted ticket in fear! For a moment felt like Charlie with his golden ticket in the Roald Dahl book, I must admit.
On the field, it was action all around, on one side were the women Pole-vaulters and on the other the Javelin men. Two giant screens gave you the close-up look at all of them. The triple jumpers were practicing on the side and the overhead camera going to and fro. The thrown javelins were brought back by remote cars which kept all the kids in the crowd riveted with hopes of having a go at them.
Then the track events began – the 4×100 men and women’s event. Team India won the bronze, the women especially lost out the silver by a whisker. PT Usha was announced for the medal distribution and the crowd went into raptures clapping for her. She seemed serious when she handed the bronze medals, she touched the cheek of each athlete with what looked like a rap. We were discussing that she may have been unhappy with bronze and were giving the girls a tiny slap each.
For Javelin, there were 4 Indian men and the crowd egged them on with chants and Kashinath Naik won bronze, again! Our triple jumper, Ranjit Maheshwari, was a crowd engager he asked the crowd to clap and we did each time, and he was in the running for silver throughout but finally had to settle for bronze, but with a new National Record!
The crowd was soon restless, all wanting to hear the National Anthem at least once and then the Women’s 4×400 began. It’s like the whole crowd wished together at the same time – and there it was, the Gold!!! The girls Sini Jose (Keralite), Ashwini Akkunji, Manjeet Kaur, and Mandeep Kaur were amazing they ran like there was no tomorrow. And the result… euphoria, screaming, jumping, all round exultation – Amazing experience!
For the National Anthem we were all singing as one and the Jaya hai Jaya hai Jaye hai bit was sung loudly with hands throwing victory punches in the air.
The only drawback was that we wanted to see Milkha Singh (who was seen congratulating the girls on the screen) or PT Usha give away the medals but instead, we had to suffer Suresh Kalmadi who did the honours. A lot of us were seen ranting but then the girls and their smiles and the joy took over.
India also beat England to enter hockey finals – Truly, a great sporting day for India and a long wait has ended since Milkha Singh won the 440 yards gold in 1958, so long ago! I certainly lucked out witnessing one of the best days for Kerala and for India in the CWG 2010.