As the football fever is reaching a crescendo across the globe with the FIFA World Cup kicking off in Qatar on November 20, the mood is no different at a nondescript tea shop in the football crazy district of Kozhikode in Kerala.
Though Neymar and Messi are yet to square off on the field in this edition of the quadrennial showpiece, the football greats of Brazil and Argentina are a regular feature in K Sreejith’s tea stall near Puthiyapalam.
The photos of the entire Brazil team, including that of Neymar, are pasted on a wall of the tea shop and another wall is adorned with pics of 16 football players, including that of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Thomas Muller. The excitement inside the outlet is palpable as the supporters of various teams come together at Sreejith’s, who is a football player and an ardent supporter of Brazil, tea shop for a heated debate over a piping hot cup of tea. The workers of the nearby godown double up as soccer fanatics and vociferously discuss in detail at the tea shop the chances of each team in the upcoming Qatar World Cup. If the fans are donning the jerseys of Brazil and Argentina for the discussions, then it is definitely going to be a hullabaloo.
Sreejith is into football right from childhood and was part of the soccer team of the Chalappuram Government Boys’ School. Later he played in many tournaments at the Zamorin school ground and Corporation Ground, and on Sundays at the beach. He started to throw his weight behind Brazil after watching their matches on TV. Sreejith’s father Muraleedharan is running the tea shop for the past 53 years and Sreejith manages the shop after noon when his father returns home.