KOZHIKODE: Admit it. We all have come across trolls, memes, and videos depicting how little women are aware of football and how it is still a ‘boys’ sport’. While the game was indeed once male-dominated in the state, football has turned popular among women, especially among those in Kozhikode. As more girls from the district have started attending football training sessions, many schools in Kozhikode have commenced football programmes exclusively for girls in the past couple of years.
One of the oft-quoted examples is that of Government Vocational Higher Secondary School for Girls, Nadakkavu, which has nurtured numerous state and national-level football players in the past decade. While it had only a handful of girl students attending football coaching sessions during the initial years, the number has now gone up to nearly 30 in each of the sub-junior, junior and senior categories.
School football coach M Fousiya, who is also a former Kerala state women’s football team member, said, “The World Cup and I-League fever are equally gripping the girl students and encouraging them to test their skills in the game. In fact, we’re planning to conduct friendly matches between the girls’ and boys’ teams in the coming years.”
As many as seven students from the school have been selected to represent the state in National sub-junior football championship in Odisha. Interestingly, of the 20 students shortlisted for the Kerala team, 12 are from Kozhikode.
GVHSS Nadakkavu was among the first schools in the state to give proper football coaching to girls, but several governments and aided schools in Kozhikode have now followed suit. Five-six of them have started programmes for students from classes V to XI. “It seems girls are now more interested to play the game than boys,” said St Mary’s HSS coach Babu Sebastian. “We had 18 students registering for coaching in the previous year. Now it has increased to 22,” he said.
The school team had participated in the 2017 U-17 Subroto Cup in New Delhi. Meanwhile, football coaches in the district point out though girl students are deeply interested in taking up the sport, in several cases, they are unable to learn football owing to parental pressure.
“A majority of the parents want their children to focus solely on academics. They believe that sports is just a waste of time. However, several students have proved that academics and sports can be carried hand in hand,” said Jyothikumar M, physical education teacher, Government Girls HSS, Koyilandy.