KOZHIKODE: The State Bank of Travancore FC are on a dream roll. The bankmen have already won four trophies this season, with the latest being the Kerala Premier League title at Arapetta here. The title win has emphatically underlined their status as the premier football club in the state. “We are playing the best football in the 2014-15 season. It is hard to win trophies in this manner every year. But this team is brimming with some good domestic talents who put in their complete effort to make this a good season,” says V T Shaji, who has been training the SBT team for more than five years.
Aside from the domestic medals, the SBT team has added gloss to their crowded trophy cabinet with a host of national-level tournament wins as well. The team claimed the Jayant Trophy All India Football title in January before lifting the United All India Football trophy a couple of months later. But when one winds the clock back to 2007, a grim picture emerges. The SBT was not the same team. They struggled to cop with the retirement of their then head coach N M Najeeb, a master tactician who built the team from scratch and took them to new heights. But they soon woke up from their slumber, clawing back to the top in sublime fashion. The team never looked back since then. “We had a short span of barren run, but the team fought back to regain its winning streak. It was just a matter of time. Everyone goes through such a period. But once we found our rhythm, there was no going back. We have a wealth of domestic footballers who make the difference,” says Shaji.
SBT, which has been the biggest contributor to Kerala’s Santosh Trophy teams for many years, has sent seven players to the state team which crashed out in the semifinals of the National Championship at Jalandhar earlier this year. Shaji is understandably elated.
“SBT has been doing this over the years. We have a talent pool that no one can ignore. It is a good situation for a coach. The only thing that I have to do is to make use of the wealth of talent available to me,” he adds. He has no hesitation in acknowledging the role of the Indian Super League in the general growth of football in the state.
“They believe a good season in a domestic club will take them to any ISL club. It has improved their performance level also,” Shaji says.