What would be in the mind of the organisers of the SBT G V Raja All-India Football Tournament as they are all set to kick-start the ninth edition of the tournament, named after the great Col Goda Varma Raja, on Wednesday?
Unsurprisingly, the organisers say that they are a concerned lot over the dwindling number of football tournaments in the state which has proved fatal for both the soccer clubs and fans.
“The state of affairs of football in the state can be improved only by organising tournaments on a regular basis. In the past, we had a couple of tournaments that contributed several talented players to the state and the nation. As football championships are becoming rare events, we want to highlight the event as a platform for second division teams who are finding it difficult to find venues,” said Gee Varghese, secretary of the Thiruvananthapuram District Football Association (TDFA).
In fact, GV Raja tournament was rebooted after a long gap of 25 years in 2010, only to get bogged down soon following lack of sponsors. Many tournaments of the likes of Sait-Nagjee Trophy in Kozhikode, Sree Narayana Trophy in Kannur, Chackola Gold Trophy in Thrissur, which have a rich legacy, lost their steam and came to a grinding halt.
”There were plenty of venues for the players earlier. But now, tournaments have started drying up and the second division clubs are mostly affected by this. It is the single reason that forced us to conduct the tournament this year also amidst financial crunch,” said Rajeev K, publicity convenor of the tournament and manager of SBT junior team.
V P Shaji, the coach of SBT and former international, also echoed the same concern.
‘’What is the use of preparing a team if you can’t find a venue to perform? Good tournaments alone can produce good players,” he commented.
Now the ball is in the court of the football administrators to deliver their best and organise existing tournaments in a befitting manner. Otherwise, the quality of the game will dip further.