THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Forget the government’s smooth talk about promoting football and Malayalees’ ‘’undying passion’’ for the game, the 11th SBT G V Raja all-India football tournament underway at University Stadium is reeling under a singular absence of spectators and shortage of funds.
Despite the fact that 16 teams, including nine prominent national-level teams and seven Kerala teams are featured, spectator turnout has been abysmal, tournament organising committee chairman V Sivankutty MLA said on Thursday.
‘’On one day, the collection totalled a measly Rs 2,000 and on another, Rs 3,000. So we returned the money and decided to make the event free,’’ he said. ‘’There were a lot of people in the stadium on the day the Onam pageantry was held in the city. But they were all watching the road instead of the game,’’ Sivankutty said.
On the first four days, the tournament was held under floodlights. But the poor public participation and mounting expenses forced the organisers to reschedule the events to between 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm from August 24. This year’s event had begun on August 20. The final will be held at University Stadium on Sunday. Indian Navy has already qualified for the final and their opponent will be decided at the second semifinal match on Friday between current champions SBT and Air India. The winner will be presented the G V Raja Trophy and Rs 1 lakh and the runner-up, trophy and Rs 50,000.
Veterans to be Honoured
On the day of the final, 65 veteran footballers residing in the district who have played at the international, national and university level and coaches and referees will be honoured at the venue, the organisers said. They will be presented mementos. The are also prizes for the public for predicting the winners and the number of goals.