THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:When Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) officers at Thiruvananthapuram formed its own football club in 1968, they weren’t very ambitious. “It was in 1974 under chairman K Sudhakaran Nair that the team made its official debut,” reminisced P Appukuttan Nair, who played centre forward for the 1975 KSEB squad.
“We went on to win several titles since then, including the 1980 All-India level football championship at Tuticorin,” he added. The club celebrated their 50th-anniversary last month at Kovalam.Though the football team of Kerala State Electricity Board was beaten 2-1 by SBI Kerala Juniors in the Super Divisions Tournament semifinal held here at the University Stadium, the loss does little to blemish the club’s prominence in the history of the game in Kerala.
The current squad of KSEB isn’t looking any less formidable. Four players of the Kerala Football team which raised the 72nd Santhosh Trophy - Akhil Soman, Hajmal S, Mohammad Shareef YP and Mohammad Parokkottil - under captain Alex M have proved themselves threatening on the field.
In the previous season, the club clinched both the Kerala Premier League (KPL) and Super Divisions Tournament titles. “Though we had a commendable run in this year’s Super Division, we couldn’t enter KPL due to financial constraints,” said Noushad Pari, the manager of the club.
The expenses of hosting home matches were too big for the management, he added. The surprising exit had turned several heads towards the club and the plight of football in the nation.The disappointment clearly didn’t hold them back in the Super Division tournament matches that began on May 14. Having started out with a 2-0 victory against Coastal Club, the team, however, succumbed to SBI Kerala Juniors with Viknesh narrowing the Opposition’s lead. “Unlucky is what I would describe it. The heavy rains severely affected our gameplan,” Rakesh K, the right back of KSEB said about their loss in the semi-finals. Coach Ramesh PB was also critical of the bad weather conditions they had to play in. “Besides, we missed out on golden opportunities to strike back, “ Ramesh added.
Teams of various such departments have been the front runners of football in Trivandrum. “Unlike in Malappuram, where I come from, the football frenzy isn’t really strong here,” said Noushad. He was referring to the huge banners and posters that football fanatics put up in town around this time of the season. “There aren’t several prominent independent football clubs here to promote young talents into this field,” he said. However, Noushad agrees that the recent Indian Super League has given a huge boost to the game in the country.