THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It seems the winter is over for football in Thiruvananthapuram. After serious deliberations and several occasions of postponement of the prestigious GV Raja football tournament, the District Football Association has finally broken the deadlock and announced that the tournament will commence on May 1.
"All the hurdles have been crossed. The tournament is slated to begin on May 1,” District Football Association secretary Geevarghese told Express.
There was widespread disenchantment among the soccer aficionados and sports administrators over putting off the tournament. The tournament, which was revived in 2010 after a gap of 25 years, has been in cold storage owing to various reasons, ranging from fund constraints to non-availability of dates from I-league teams.
Apart from that, political leanings of various functionaries were also attributed to the delay. Yet, the announcement was something that avid soccer fans have been waiting for.
The kick-off will be held on May 1 at University Stadium. Though the turf is not in prime condition, the officials have placed trust on the groundsmen and said that the ground would turn match-fit by the end of April.
"We had conducted a match for veterans and it was assessed that the conditions are satisfactory. But we are leaving no stone unturned and the ground staff have been told to water the grass properly,” Geevarghese said.
The home ground matches of Chirag United, the host team for the I-league, were played in the University Stadium. The hard surface and scanty grass were severely criticised by the teams at that time. Yet, the overall facilities of the Stadium were widely applauded.
It was the success of the E K Nayanar Memorial Gold Cup Football Tournament held recently in Kozhikode that prompted the district officials to put their act together.
"The tournament (Nayanar cup) enjoyed the patronage of the party. But it succeeded in shedding the party tag and was a big hit. Why can’t we organise such an event? If the people concerned sit together, then we can organise something bigger here,” a former player said, seeking anonymity.
The District Association, taking a cue from the Nayanar cup, is all set to launch the tournament in style. Several teams like Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Sesa Goa and Tata Fooball Academy will rally their teams. But the spotlight would be on Kerala-based teams, including SBT, Trivandrum IX, KSEB and Titanium.
But, whether the tournament would herald a football spring in the city is what the eager fans are looking forward to.