THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what could turn out to be a major shot in the arm for the ailing departmental football teams in the state, Thiruvananthapuram-based State Bank of Travancore (SBT) and Kerala Police football teams are being considered to represent Kerala in the I-League second division.
The opportunity comes after the I-League Core Committee of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) decided to make the national league structure broad-based by inviting participants from all state associations to compete in the 2016-17 version of the second division.
According to AIFF, the state associations are to nominate two best-placed teams from the last concluded top division league in their respective state to play in the qualifiers for the national second division.
Confirming the development, KFA general secretary P Anil Kumar, on Saturday, told Express that the association has recommended both SBT and the Police to submit the documents required for the KFA to submit the nominations before the deadline on September 8.
“SBT and Kerala Police are the winners and runners-up respectively of the Kerala Premier League-2015 held at Wayanad. So, we have informed both the clubs to prepare the paperwork required for the participation,” Anil Kumar said.
If the plans go through, the two Kerala teams will play in South Zone from which the top team will qualify for the final round, where they will take on other zonal champions. Top two teams from the final round will participate in the 2016-17 second division.
The clubs will have to comply with three criteria set by AIFF in order to be eligible for the second division; which are, having an AFC B Licence head coach, 18 contracted players and registering as a legal entity under Societies and Companies Act.
“We are preparing the documents and will submit them to KFA by Monday,” said SBT coach V P Shaji. “Definitely, it is a great news for Kerala football that SBT has an opportunity to return to the elite of Indian football,” he said. SBT last played the top division (then National Football League) in 2004-05 season and second division in 2010.
Meanwhile, Police football legend C V Pappachan said that it will be a huge motivation for the players of traditional Kerala football powerhouses like Police, SBT, KSEB, Travancore Titanium and AG’s Office.
“It is always welcome to have more quality tournaments to compete in,'' he said.