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.
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 🙂
In 2010, when I was working with good friend Kiruba Shankar, I shared the idea of travelling through Malabar region and capture the football frenzy. He encouraged me to go ahead with the plan. The idea was to write a series of blogposts. Later in 2013, Kiruba conducted a “Book authoring retreat” at his lovely farm house Vaksana Farms.
Book Authoring Retreat!
Kiruba organises Book authoring retreats for wanna be authors. This is a 2 day intensive, fun filled programme organised at his farm in a village called Rettanai, 150 Kms from Chennai.
The highlight of the farm is there is no net connectivity, no TV and very feeble mobile connectivity. You have no other options but to interact with the people and animals around 😀
No Google so you are forced to think ( I enjoyed this part )
Kiruba encourages the participants to write down ( not type in the laptop or pad) , draw or sketch. The idea is to bring out the idea inside you. there will be interactive sessions with authors who are already published many books. Kiruna himself have authored close to 10 books.
Evenings are filled with games and fun. Food is homemade (another highlight) His family also helps him in this retreat.
Its a great place to unwind, to meet interesting people and more over to be close to the nature
I have heard that the farm is more greenish now. Eagerly waiting to visit the place again.
There i decided to make this as a book. Atlast in 2014, I met Kiruba with the book.
The name of the book is FIFA World Cup: Festival of Malabar! Here is the cover design!
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.