THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There was a time when the city boasted of being the sports capital of the state, especially in football. It was even the hometown of legendary sports administrator G V Raja.
But in the long run, this legacy was lost owing to many reasons. Aiming to regain the lost glory, 'Travancore Royals', the first fan-owned football club of India, is all set to be launched.
'Travancore Royals' is born with the support of Sports and Management Research Institute (SMRI) and some football enthusiasts.
“Top football clubs such as Real Madrid, F C Barcelona and F C Bayern Munich are owned and managed by their fans. Though we have a legacy in the sport, there are few such clubs in the city and the existing ones are in a bad state. That is why we thought of having a fan-owned club which will not only help revive the sports but also encourage football enthusiasts,” said Sreekanth S, treasurer and CMO. The club, guided by SMRI, has set three goals which will be accomplished in a year. At present, the club aims to break the record of S L Benfica of Portugal which holds the Guinness World Record for the most widely supported football club with 1,60,398 members, by adding 2 lakh enthusiasts as members.
Besides achieving this record, the club will also nurture professional footballers from among the fans-owners. The leaders will offer 365 days of true football experience to all its stakeholders.
In the initial stages, Sports and Management Research Institute (SMRI) will also provide training in sports management and leadership skills. “Just setting up a club is not enough. So, we thought of bringing in more professional teams who can help in training the players. We plan to spread our activities across the state,” said Sreekanth.
'Travancore Royals' will campaign to play and win the top-level international football championships. The club will follow the Athletic Bilbao System of scouting players and will target including the maximum number of footballers from Kerala into the Indian National team.
The NO.1 jersey will not be given to any football players but is reserved for fans who are usually called the '12th man' in the football game.
Ajay Padmanabhan is the president of the club while Jibu Gibson is the secretary. Other members include Abhijith T S, Suvin Samuel and Sibi Fernandez. The club will be inaugurated on November 29 by Minister for Tourism and Cooperation Kadakampally Surendran.