Six clubs have qualified for the final phase of the Manorama Sports Club Award 2019, instituted by Malayala Manorama in association with Santa Monica Holidays.
The six contenders were chosen from among hundreds of applicants from all over the state, who are mainly associated with disciplines such as cricket, athletics, swimming, chess, kabaddi, volleyball, tug of war, and martial arts.
The expert panel, comprising former Indian footballer and renowned coach C C Jacob, former Kerala Santosh Trophy team captain Asif Saheer, and Dr Jimmy Joseph, head of the Department of Physical Education at Assumption College, Changanacherry, visited each of the six shortlisted clubs and evaluated their performance.
The first-prize winner will be given away the Manorama Sports Club Award and a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh. The second and third place winners will be awarded trophies and a purse of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively.
Sports clubs and academies in Kerala recognised by the state government or affiliated with any government organisations were eligible to apply. In choosing the recipients for awards, regard will specifically be given to the nominees’ achievements in 2019.
The track record of the applicants, their contributions to the development of sports in the area of operation, conduct of events at local level, participation in non-sporting activities, and training programmes organised by them during the period will also be taken into consideration.
Here is a quick look at the shortlisted nominees for Kerala’s biggest sports award:
Established in 2008, Kovalam FC focuses on unearthing young footballers from the coastal areas in Thiruvananthapuram and honing their skills at grassroots levels. Former Kerala Santosh Trophy player Ebin Rose, one of the founders of this professional football club, is the chief coach. Over the years, Kovalam FC have grown into a full-fledged club and currently they impart specialised football training to over 400 children. Most of the trainees belong to the fishing community from different parts of the capital city. A J Mathew is the chief patron and president of Kovalam FC.
Dolphin Club at Pirappancode near Thiruvananthapuram is known as Kerala's swimming hub. Founded in 1952, the club has produced many talented swimmers and has done a lot to popularise aquatic sport in the state. Remarkably, the number of Dolphin Club products who landed government jobs under sports quota would come around 2,000. The club's current president is N Kesavan Nair while G Babu is the secretary.
Future Football Club
Future Football Club is a soccer academy based at the FACT football ground in Eloor, Ernakulam. The club is committed to boost grassroots football in the region and unearth hitherto unknown talents for the future. After a modest beginning eight years ago with 40 children, the club provides training to over 300 aspiring footballers now. President A B Hamsa and secretary Walter Antony, a former Santosh Trophy player, take care of the club's day-to-day activities.
Chess Association of Marottichal
Marottichal is the 'chess village' of Kerala. This ancient game is the favorite pastime of this sleepy hamlet in Thrissur district. People here are hooked to the chequered board and every villager between the ages of 10 and 50 knows how to play chess. It is C Unnikrishnan, a tea shop owner, who persuaded fellow villagers to learn the game. Eight years ago, the Chess Association of Marottichal (CAM) was set up and currently there are around 4,000 active players in the village. The CAM is headed by Baby John Scaria (president) and Saji Thanikkal (secretary).
Pattern Sports and Arts Society
Founded in 1990 by a group of volleyball enthusiasts at Karanthur in Kozhikode district, Pattern Sports and Arts Society has gained prominence over the years and become a force to reckon with. Around 200 children undergo training at the academy on a daily basis under the watchful eyes of chief coach C Yousuf.
Kadathanad Raja Football Academy
Established in 2007 at Purameri near Nadapuram in Kozhikode district, the Kadathanad Raja Football Academy aims at nurturing and developing football talents at the grassroots level. One of the academy's major achievements was that it could attract lots of aspiring female footballers to its fold. So far, eight girls who were nurtured by the academy have gone on to represent Kerala at national school football championships. Former Kerala Police player C Surendran and M K Pradeep are the chief coaches. The training is conducted at the Kadathanad Raja Higher Secondary School grounds at Purameri.