Kollam: The dream of Manikandan, an orphaned youth from Kollam, to make a name in national and international football by getting trained in the prestigious Real Madrid Club, has been shattered.
It is suspected that a private football academy from Kollam siphoned off public money worth Rs 10 lakh collected in the name of his proposed coaching at the Spanish professional club. And, the promise given to Manikandan remained unfulfilled even after four years.
The Vigilance Department began an inquiry into the fraud as Rs 7 lakh was given by the Kerala Government and Rs 2.5 lakh was collected from the public.
Sad enough, Manikandan's wait for his dream project may not take off now as he has already crossed 18 years of age. Real Madrid usually gives coaching to boys in their early teens.
Manikandan was rescued from a beggar mafia by the officials of the Child Welfare Department at the age of seven years. The promise was given to him by the private coaching academy when he was an inmate of Kollam Children's Rescue Home.
The overseas plan was conceived when he joined the private football academy with the financial support of the Child Development Committee and the Child Rights Council four years ago. Soon he was taken to a Chennai Club for coaching. Manikandan was given an offer that he would be sent to Real Madrid through the Chennai Club.
The news of Manikandan going to Real Madrid created much media hype in 2017. The State Government then gave Rs 7.5 lakh to the Kollam academy and about Rs 2.5 lakh was raised from the public by the academy. But after that, nothing materialised.
The irony is that now there is no proof left for money given either to the Chennai Club or to Real Madrid.
The owner of the coaching club in Kollam claimed that he had handed over the money to the Chennai Club for Manikandan's trip to Real Madrid. According to the club, the application for a visa had been rejected once. Because of floods and the COVID-19 outbreak, nothing could be worked out later.
But according to the Chennai Club authorities, only Rs 3 lakh was paid through them at Real Madrid. The question now remains who is telling the truth and where the rest of the money is gone. So, the Vigilance inquiry at this juncture is very crucial to bring to the fore the real facts behind the deal.
Manikandan, who had to quit children's home after reaching 18 years of age, is now staying at the Motherhood Charity Mission being run by D Sreekumar, an Assistant Sub-Inspector of the Coastal Police, at Neendakara in Kollam district.
Manikandan's elder sister is currently housed at Aftercare Home in Kollam.