Bengaluru, September 21: Some days back, Sachin Tendulkar shocked the football lovers in Kerala, announcing the selling of his shares in Kerala Blasters FC and thereby snapping the ties with the club that he had been a part since its inception.
However, the football fanatics in Kerala have something to look forward to as Tinu Yohannan, coincidentally another former India cricketer, have formed a club - FC Kochi - and it will compete in the Kerala Premier League in October. Tinu has played three Tests and three ODIs for India between 2001 and 2002 and took five wickets apiece in those two formats.
Tinu was the first Kerala player to appear for India in international matches and has also played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008.
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Tinu is a Kochi native and hence rechristened the local club he took over as FC Kochi. Joji Mathew Daniel, a physical education trainer, is the co-owner of the club. However, the club has no relation to the erstwhile FC Kochin that housed a host of stars like IM Vijayan, Carlton Chapman, Jo Paul Ancheri etc.
"I have always been passionate about football and we are quite serious about the project," Tinu was quoted as saying in the Deccan Chronicle.
"We bought it with the motive of overall development. This project was in mind for a few years and initially the idea was to associate with an existing club but then not everyone shared our vision and that's how we decided to do it on our own," he said.
"We have focused mostly on recruiting U-23 players and there are footballers from throughout the state," said Joji.
Former Kerala Blasters FC member Ajith Sivan, Santosh Trophy players Vibin Ajayan and Rafeek are some of the youngsters who are in the ranks of FC Kochi.
Tinu said their challenge was not in launching the club but to groom it into a truly competitive side.
"It is just a humble start and we want to improve with every season. We believe if our vision is genuine then people will come forward to support us. Just like any club owners, we also want to go up the ladder but we believe that should not be by sacrificing our values. For us, this club is a platform for talented footballers to arrive, get better and reach the next level," said Tinu.
Former international Soly Xavier is FC Kochi's head coach and he'll be assisted by Sanal Kumar.