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AIFF chief Chaubey wants Kerala to contribute more to Indian football

The AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey at the International Sports Summit Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

The AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey at the International Sports Summit Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Kalyan Chaubey had been to Kerala as a player a few decades ago, and now he is back as an administrator, and he feels that little has changed in the State when it came to its passion for football.

“When you talk about football, Kerala has something incredible. I had an opportunity to visit Kerala in the mid-nineties and late-nineties as a goalkeeper of different teams,” said Chaubey, the All India Football Federation president, during the International Sports Summit Kerala at the Sports Hub here on Wednesday.

“And I had an opportunity to visit Kerala again. One thing I noticed, Kerala has not changed, it’s the same as it was 30 years ago,”

“Then, there was a full house for FC Kochin, and now it’s for Kerala Blasters or Gokulam Kerala.”

He felt football came naturally for folks in this part of the world.

“Last year, we hosted beach football in Surat, Kerala played commendably (it won the title). A few months ago, we had the para football Nationals in Delhi, there also Kerala was champion,” said the former India player.

“So, this State has the potential to win the Santosh Trophy, to do well in beach football, to win the para Nationals and also to win the Indian Women’s Football League. It’s a blessing, this State has in-built talent for football in their men and women.”

With such a craze for the sport, Chaubey said the facilities need to improve for the players.

“I am sure the Government will do its best to improve sports infrastructure, to create more competition, to educate more coaches, to create more grass-root academies,” he said.

“This State should also try to focus and contribute to the national federation with the Sports Authority of India, Government of India and the Ministry of Sports to ensure that all the resources are put together to see that these soccer-crazy fans get more and more facilities in the State.

“We need to come forward, to discuss more, and we need to see how best we can utilise the tie-up. Can we only speak about the past, about players like Jo Paul Ancheri, I.M. Vijayan, Sathyan or Sharaf Ali or are we going to make more Vijayans, Jo Pauls and Sharafs in the future,” he asked.

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