KOCHI: Lauding The New Indian Express initiative to help revive the ‘beautiful game’ and spot young talent in the once football-crazy state, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Ajay Maken said here on Monday that media should play a hands-on role in reviving the glory days of Indian football.
“It’s not want of potential, training or funds, but want of a sports culture that has hit sports in a big way,” Maken said at the launch of ‘Goal 2012,’ a 14-day all-Kerala inter-collegiate football tournament being organised by Express.
“Instead of complaining about policy makers or politicians, Express has taken upon itself the task of reviving the game by launching a football tournament for college students,” he said. “With this, Express has given the much-needed glamour to the game. It is a sports culture that is missing these days. Children are glued to their computers instead of going out and playing. We need to try and change that,” he said.
The minister named a string of legendary footballers that Kerala has produced.
TNIE Group Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla wondered why Kerala with such a rich history of football was no longer a force to reckon with at the national level.
“The state has contributed greats to the national team and won the Santhosh Trophy five times. Who is responsible for the decline of football - the state, the media or politicians? Football grounds are pathetic here and there are no venues to hold tournaments. Some beginning has to be made and we have taken the first step,” he said.
Chawla urged the Sports Minister to address the issue of poor quality football grounds in the state. “I request you to name football as the second national game as it is not a costly sport to pursue,” he said.
Presiding over the function, Hibi Eden MLA said that the media should give more space to football. The state has taken new initiative in promoting football. “But we don’t have as many synthetic turfs as in Punjab,’’ he said.