Gokulam Kerala to allow free entry to women in the upcoming I-League

The city-based club has made entry free for all the 10 league matches at the Corporation Stadium.

Gokulam Kerala will offer free entry to women in the upcoming I-League.

Gokulam Kerala will offer free entry to women in the upcoming I-League.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Last month's World Cup football qualifying match in Tehran, between Iran and Cambodia, made global headlines after more than 4,000 women turned up at the Azadi Stadium to watch the game.

It was for the first time since 1981 in Iran that women were allowed entry inside the football stadium. Before that, many women had still sneaked into the stadium, sometimes even disguised as men, to watch football.

Women in India though, have never had such problems, but you won't usually find many of them at the stadiums. However, I-League side Gokulam Kerala FC is determined to change the trend.

The city-based club has made entry free for all the 10 matches at the Corporation Stadium. “We would love to see female spectators at the stadium,” Gokulam Kerala's president V.C. Praveen told Sportstar. “I remember seeing photos of many women watching football matches at Kozhikode many years ago. So women here have interest in football.”

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Contrary to popular notion, more girls are kicking the ball too these days, especially in places like Kozhikode.

“We are pretty serious about promoting women's football,” said Praveen. “We are the only I-League club to have a women's club.” The Kerala Women's League, which is expected to kick off this season, could be a boost to the sport. It will feature ten teams.

“The league is certainly a step forward for women's football in the State,” the Kozhikode District Football Association secretary P. Haridas said. “Gokulam's decision to make entry free for women too is another good initiative.”

Haridas recalled that large number of women used to come for Sait Nagjee and other football tournaments. “We used to have separate stands for women,” he said. “It would be great if women return to the Corporation Stadium.”

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