FIFA World Cup 2018 has brought in much cheer and excitement in God’s own country. Although veteran athlete PT Usha can be credited for putting Kerala on India’s sports map, the achievements of VP Sathyan, former captain of the Indian football team, have been noteworthy too.
The northern part of Kerala, also called the Malabar region, is well known for its love for football. The popularity of the Sevens football game (seven players in each team) which sees participation from foreign players, too, is proof. One can find team flags, hoardings and cut-outs in every corner of the state.
The ongoing football fever has had even the ministers in Kerala expressing their love for the game on social media. The April Santhosh trophy win by Kerala has further piqued the excitement among football fans.
Chenkalchoola, a slum spread over 12 acres, located near the Thiruvananthapuram railway station, and the state secretariat area are abuzz with football craziness. Rooftops of houses, walls and even the roads are full of paintings made in support various teams.
An artist who earns his living by writing autorickshaw number plates is behind many of the paintings and pictures adorning the streets of the state.
The residents of Chenkalchoola have also made a FIFA theme song that aptly captures the football fervour in the state. The song has been sung by Abhiram Sudhi, Vinil Lawrance and Akshay Shaji.
Brazil and Argentina are the teams that appear most across hoardings and posters in the state. Big screens have been installed at junctions by various clubs for people to watch the games.
(Syed Shiyaz Mirza is a freelance photojournalist based in Kerala. You can follow him on Facebook here.)
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