By the time we started to Areekode from Malappuram town, it was drizzling heavily. Tanvir, however, was thoroughly drenched but thrilled to watch the Brazil Vs Argentina match that was organized at Areekode. Areekode is a football village, situated 28kms from Malappuram. Areekode has produced many international footballers including U. Sharafali.I was worried about Tanvir and asked whether we should wait for rain to recede but herejected the idea and said we were already late. We managed to reach Areekode just before the commencement of match, even though we missed the wonderful road show. There was a sea of people there. I was at the midst of a big football carnival. Tanvir was missing throughout the match. He was somewhere in the midst of all that hustle. Later, I spotted him standing on a chair and whistling non stop. The match ended in a draw. I met lot of diehard fans there, both Argentina and Brazil fans, in all shapes and sizes 🙂
I met Mr. Tanvir at Legends sports club at Makkaraparamba. He was thrilled when I told him that I had come from Chennai to write about Football. He arranged for photographs of the match that the club had organized. On that day there was supposed to be a huge road show, organized by Malayalam Manorama, one of the leading Malayalam dailies. The road show was at Areekode, some 60 kms from Makkaraparamba. He said he would take me to that place and show the entire proceeding.
On the way we decided to visit Malappuram town and then proceed to Areekode. So we set off for Malappuram town. By the time we reached Malappuram, there were diehard fans waiting for us, thanks to Tanvir. The fans were on bikes and in cars with stickers of their favorite nations. We couldn’t spend much time in Malappuram so we said goodbye to them all, promised to visit them again and headed off to Areekode.
On our return I noticed one strange thing. Most of the people who overtook us were screaming at us. I could hear only Argentina. I wondered what we had done to provoke such jeering. When we stopped mid way to fill petrol I understood the reason. Tanvir was wearing the Brazilian flag as a head gear since it was raining heavily and seeing him attired this way hardcore Argentinian fans heckled us. Tanvir smiled and said they were hard core fans. At last I dropped him off in front of the Club. He had only one question, when is the book coming? Tanvir is the true representative of the football crazy people of Malabar.
My next pick of interesting banner I am sure will delight Brazil fans and despond the Argentina ones.
Theme: Inspired from the Malayalam saying “1000 കോഴിമുട്ടയ്ക്ക് അര കാടമുട്ട ”, a rough translation “half quail’s egg is equivalent to a 1000 chicken’s egg.” The statement underscores the fact that a quail’s egg is far more nutritious than a chicken’s egg. Now to the World Cup and the banner from Brazil fans,
Headline: 1000 മെസ്സിക്ക് അര കക്കാ , means
“Half Kaka is enough for a 1000 Messi(s)”
So after taking few snaps of the banners at the junction near Makkarapparamba, I started interacting with people there, mostly kids, checking whether I could go to any other interesting places. Suddenly one guy with great joy yelled that Brazil won against Argentina 4-3. I was slightly confused because the World Cup matches were yet to start so how come Brazil won against Argentina? Then the details poured in. The match was a locally organized one for the fans of Brazil and Argentina. These exhibition matches are a routine affair in these parts of the world where players would wear various nations’ jerseys and play. So Mr. Sakkir, who used to play for Viva Kerala, was the captain of Brazil team and Mr. Asif Zahir, an ex-State Bank of Tranvancore Kerala player, captained Argentina. The match was very thrilling it seems. Around 200 people came for the match. A local club, Legends Club, at Makkaraparamba organized the game. And the winner receives the World Cup, not the original one but a replica, made in cement by an artisan named Mr. Sukumaran.
I met Mr. Manoj and Mr. Anil, two youngsters in front of the Garima stores. They were about to leave with a bag full of shawls that they had purchased at Garima. Mr. Manoj worked for Kerala State Road Transport Corporation. Their company, Crown Fashion Enterprises mainly distributed sports related stuffs throughout Malappuram district. During World Cup season they procured only football-related merchandising. “Football is in our blood” said Mr. Manoj, who is a hard core Argentina fan. In his Argentina jersey, he showed me various nations’ shawls. Messi’s jersey has the highest demand and Mr. Manoj had purchased around 1000 pieces. Other items included Wrist bands, flags, football itself and shorts. I requested for some pictures and within no time Mr. Manoj and Mr. Anil draped their car with various nations’ shawls.
During my trip to Malabar I saw at least 500-600 banners and took photos of almost 300. Every 500 metres you could see at least 2 banners, one for Brazil and another for Argentina. Almost all the towns in Malabar have their fan clubs. These clubs (sometimes individuals) spend huge amount of money for printing and mounting these banners. Argentina and Brazil have the maximum fan following. I picked up some interesting Banners. Some very creative, some with high voltage dialogues (thanks to Malayalam cinema) and some vulgar too.
So this is my first pick. An Argentina fan club’s banner for sure. Argentina is shown as the Lion; don’t miss Brazil shown as a donkey, Italy as a bull, Holland a rabbit and Germany a horse.
The headline says “The king of 1986 (The great Maradona) and cubs are getting out of African forest”. The punch line “This Lion (Argentina) will pounce upon his preys as soon as the whistle is blown at Johannesburg”.
Epilogue: I was busy taking pictures of this banner when a guy came and said there was another banner nearby, much bigger and more interesting. He took me to the nearby junction. There I saw a huge Brazil banner, then realized the guy was a hard core Brazil fan! He smiled and said “We have already won 5 World Cups, so a bigger banner was required”.
Never in my life had I seen such a huge crowd in a sports store. Most of the customers were in their teens, busy selecting jerseys of their favorite football players.Mr. Shamir, owner of the store was equally busy helping his customers. One could see Messi, Kaka and Rooney everywhere. Flags of Argentina, Brazil and other major soccer playing nations were strung all over the store. Garima had an entire range of special merchandising dedicated to World Cup Soccer, a must-have treat for the fans. The set included flags of leading football playing nations, car stickers, wrist bands, jerseys of great players, shawls, ribbons and the list continues. The store was literally stuffed with Football-related merchandising. Argentina and Brazil are the most favorite teams. Mr. Shamir had stocked over 1000 flags in different price and sizes and almost 15000 jerseys. Flags were in the Rs 45-300 range while Jerseys were priced between Rs 110 and Rs 130. Most of the stocks were from the neighbouring districts of Palakkad, Ernakulam and Tirupur, a town in Tamil Nadu famous for Knitwear.
On my way to Malappuram, I saw this wonderful set of banners, ten of them at a junction. The place was a small town named Makkaraparamba. There were banners for Brazil, Argentina, Holland, Italy, North Korea, France, England, Portugal, Spain and Germany. So, as usual, I started taking pictures of the banners, by which time some students from a nearby high schoolgathered around me and was curious to know what I was doing. As usual I started chatting with the kids about the World Cup celebration. This was the first time I had seen such a long banner series, and during the talk, one kid told me that somewhere near Kottakkal, another town in Malappuram dist, there was a series of 32 banners, a banner each for all World Cup football finalists!
FIFA World cup football is truly a festival for people of Malabar region (northern part of Kerala). If you want to see the real football crazy fans, you must travel to this region during the world cup season. I did that during the 2010 edition of FIFA World cup. And my collection of notes was made into a book during the 2014 edition of the games.
And we are going to witness another season. I thought of sharing with you some interesting photos I took 8 years ago, during my travel through these places. starting June 6, I will be sharing with you those images. Hope you will enjoy them 🙂
Running in the hill is a mystical experience, quite divine I must say. These are the times we realize the greatness of the nature.
BIB collection and the fun thereafter!
Apart from the health benefits, Running marathons comes up with several other surprises. Meeting great people is one of them. You meet people from all walks of lives, united by the same passion and will.
Ootyultra2018 was my first ultra hill run. We climbed close to a 1100 ft, reached the highest peak in South India, Doddabetta. Now Doddabetta is the highest mountain in the Nilgiri Hills at 2,637 metres. The path was so tough that I walked almost till we reached the top. But the view from there was awesome. This was early morning. The place was closed for the general public. But the return, the downhill part was the highlight of the run, I covered 1 km in less than 4 minutes! We were running at great speed, trying hard to compensate for the time lost during the uphill run. We ran through wilderness, we could hear only the sound of birds. Pure air and cool breeze hitting us.
At last finished the run strong and safe at the Tea Park. I could finish the race well ahead of the cut off timing. Received the awesome medal with the name laser cut. A well organized event I would say, great weather and quite a challenging route.