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Kerala fails to open ground for world football

KOCHI: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), Bayern Munich — all of them have evinced interest in either playing or setting up football schools in Kerala. When such opportunities come knocking, it’s better to be prepared. But Kerala paints a sorry picture as it neither has an exclusive football stadium nor has the state government or the football association been able to take concrete steps to install quality infrastructure.

While Barcelona have been eyeing Kerala for a while, their Madrid rivals have gone a step further by agreeing to start a football school within a year if the state provides the necessary infrastructure. Ditto the KNVB, while talks have been initiated to bring Man United on board.

The hard reality is that woeful infrastructure is proving to be a stumbling block for the state’s football ambitions.

“A lot of work needs to be done on the infrastructure count in Kerala. But everyone wants to do something because of the huge following for the game here,” Kshatriya Sports Management chief executive Prashant Agarwal told Express. The Bangalore-based company has been a key intermediary in Kerala Football Association’s (KFA) discussions with overseas teams.

Even as Kerala dilly-dallies, others are moving ahead. Mumbai already has a Manchester United football school while Barcelona’s first FCBEscola school in India is slated to come up in New Delhi by the year-end.

Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Goa, Pune and Ahmedabad have all lined up for the famed Barca football academy model.

Kerala has almost lost out on the first two projects supported by FIFA — an artificial pitch under its ‘Goal Project’ and an AIFF regional academy — as it has been unable to zero in on a venue.

The KFA, though, remains optimistic. “We are moving in the right direction,” KFA president K M I Mather, who is also AIFF vice-president, said.

“If we get the five acres of land promised by the state government, we will utilise it to install an artificial turf under the FIFA Goal Project,” Mather said.

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Posted by on Jun 1 2012. Filed under Kerala News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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