Yet another FIFA World Cup! Even though cricket dominates India’s life more than the national sport of hockey, football has a decent fan following in spite of India’s pathetic show in recent times. India’s FIFA ranking stands at 167 out of 200.Way back in October 2007, in the preliminary to the qualifying stage; we were knocked out by Lebanon! The game is hardly played in any of the states other than Kerala, West Bengal and Goa. Still millions of Indians are die hard football fans.
When it comes to Kerala, especially, the northern part known as Malabar, football is an inseparable part. There is no better time than the World Cup football season to understand how much the people of Malabar love the game. The preparation for the World Cup soccer celebration starts months before the actual event. The entire region is decorated with banners and flags of various World Cup football playing nations. Various clubs organize exhibition matches. There are road shows where fans of various soccer playing nations participate. Live shows of World Cup matches are another interesting aspect of the season. Each and every junction in Malabar area has a LCD TV where you will see groups of people huddled around the telly at the time of kick offs.
Travels through Malabar during a World Cup season
The Idea of travelling through Malabar came when my friend sent me pictures of flex banners dedicated to Argentina and Brazil. Fans of various soccer playing nations spend huge amounts of money for printing and mounting these banners here. The banners show the real passion of people in northern Kerala for football. Hence in order to get a first hand account of the celebrations, during the 2010 World Cup season, I decided to travel through the main Soccer-loving districts of Kerala viz., Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode to celebrate the spirit of FIFA World Cup with diehard fans of the game, document interesting stories and capture their images. The idea was to pick up as much news related to World Cup football as I could, meet these soccer fans, locate World Cup-related special merchandising and understand in detail the activities of various local soccer clubs.
Next: Football and Malabar