Reviving a popular sport

Reviving a popular sport

Players taking part in ‘Independence day cup’ at Nehru Maidan in Mangalore. DH Photo/Chandrahas Kotekar

The youth in Mangalore enjoy playing as well as watching the common man’s game. Even though cricket is the major sport in the city, football grabs more spectators than cricket. Football is in a revivification process in coastal city with more and more football teams emerging.

Football has a proud history of nearly 70 years in the coastal city. Mangaloreans started playing football here in 1942 when the game was introduced here by one of the early football administrators in Mangalore and an arch football lover Ahmed Master.

In fact, there is an interesting story behind it. Once he visited Kannur in Kerala for treatment for his TB when he was advised by doctor to play football as apart of treatment. The British soldiers in Kannur used to play football at that time and the game was quite popular in that area. Inspired from that, he introduced football in Mangalore. He started the football club in the region and named it the New Star Football Club. New Star Football Club went to Kumbala in 1944 and played against the British team.

The game became more organised in 1954 when Canara Football Association was formed. Gangadhar Bappal and Anand Shetty were the pioneers behind the Canara Football Association. In 1970, the Canara Football Association changed into Dakshina Kannada District Football Association and got affiliated to Karnataka State Football Association. The first president of DKDFA was S K Amin and the secretary was Ahamed Master who introduced the game in Mangalore.

Many persons sweat their blood and helped the game flourish in the way which we can see now. The one important name among them is former General Manger of Vijaya Bank Jayaram Shetty. He served as the President of the Association for a long time. “Whenever we are in need, he helped financially. He loves football very much,” says DKDFA present President D M Aslam.

Mangalore contributed many eminent footballers in international and national-level. Sanjeev Uchil played for India in 1948 and 1952 Olympics. Many players represented Karnataka as well as Maharshtra in the Santhosh Trophy. Arun Kumar represented Karnataka in 1982 and T A Rahman and Mohan Sanil represented Maharashtra  in 1964 in the Santhosh Trophy.

Women’s football is also finding its horizon in Mangalore slowly. Many talented girls have represented the State in national-level.

The football in Mangalore is going through a resurrection period today. The ongoing Independence cup , which started in 1997 is changing the trend among youth towards football. The number of teams participating in this year’s independence cup has gone up to 170! It should be noted that the first Independence cup football tournament featured only 20 teams.

Many schools and colleges which don’t have a football team started forming teams to participate in this prestigious tourney. For the development of any sports, the process should start from the grass root level. Since the schools are the integral part of this grass root level, the development of game in schools is very much important and is giving a good sign that the game’s future is safe.

Even though the game and its administrators are trying hard to resurrect from the ground, the absence of a turf ground has become a hindrance.

Lack of turf ground is also preventing it from hosting national-level championships. “We are ready to make turf ground here. But we are not getting the required support from the MCC and authorities concerned,” said D M Aslam. “Currently the turf ground in Yenepoya University is the only available turf ground. Players couldn’t play their natural game without turf, because of the fear of injuries,” he adds.

The availability of ground is the main problem the major games are facing in Mangalore.
But the irony is that the situation would prevail as long as the Nehru Maidan is solely reserved for the purpose of sports.

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