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Football organically linked to rise of modern Kerala: Panniyan

Published: 17th January 2013 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2013 10:27 AM   |  A+A-

Football has immensely contributed to the building of a secular and progressive outlook in Kerala, said Panniyan Raveendran, CPI state secretary. Panniyan, an old professional football player, was here to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Goal-2013, the inter-collegiate football tournament organised by The New Indian Express on Wednesday.

Recalling the beginnings and growth of football in Kerala, Panniyan pointed out that football is organically linked to the emerging modern working class in the state. “Kannur is one of the hubs of football. Most of the players in the prestigious clubs in Kannur were from either beedi or handloom working classes,” he said.

He also narrated how football culture added to the building of the secular fabric of modern Kerala.

“At a time when caste system is still practised privately, football opened avenues for secular interactions. People from diverse social backgrounds transcended superimposed hierarchies and lived in football clubs treating them as their home,” he said. He particularly referred to a Kottayam-based football club called Hindu Muslim Christian Sports Club.

An ardent fan of Latin American Left politics and f o o t b a l l , P a n n y a n noted that Diego Maradona’s famous confession on the ‘Hand of God’ goal cannot be isolated from the basic honesty of his social class. “The winning of the 1973 Santosh Trophy by the Kerala team was a landmark in the history of people’s game. Before 1973, Kerala was an engine that had supplied brilliant players to professional football clubs based in North India. The winning of the 1973 tournament resulted in the beginning of the professional football culture in Kerala. This development helped many players stay back in Kerala,” he said. Expressing his pleasure at meeting the players who had won the 1973 Santosh Trophy, he admitted that various governments could not constructively generate a mechanism that could have tapped the extraordinary talent pool in Kerala. “If a player like I M Vijayan had access to a sound mentoring process, he would have become one of the best players in the world,” he said with regret.



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