Former AIFF secretary Lakshmanan passes way

P. P. Lashmanan served as the AIFF secretary between 1988 and 1996.

P. P. Lakshmanan was also the former FIFA Appeal Committee Member.   -  S. K. Mohan

With the passing away of P. P. Lakshmanan, 83, in the wee hours of Monday, the country has lost a capable and visionary administrator, who will be remembered for his pioneering work to bring about professionalism in Indian football.

Lakshmanan was associated with the game for well over five decades, starting his innings as president of the Kannur District Football Association in the 1970s after his return from East Africa where he had spent quite some time and then rose to the position of the president of the Kerala Football Association and, thereafter, as treasurer of the All India Football Federation in 1980.

He was at the helm of the AIFF finances till 1988 when he was elected as the secretary, a post which he continued to hold till 1996. It was during this stint that Lakshmanan pushed for radical reforms, changing the format of the Santosh Trophy and introducing an age limit (23 years) for participating in it.

Though widely criticised for this – of lowering the prestige of the National championships, Lakshmanan stoutly defended it by saying that this was required to nurture talent for India’s possible participation in the Olympics, which allowed the fielding of only three professionals and the rest, under-23 players.

Moreover, he always kept saying that the future of Indian football depended on how best the country adopts itself to a National League in which players were engaged and managed by professional clubs.

A prompt person to attend to his daily work as chief executive of the AIFF, Lakshmanan was more than once honoured as the best secretary of a national federation by the Asian Football Confederation. It was also during his term, that FIFA appointed a three-member team to study the state of Indian football and come out with suggestions on how best the game could be improved across the country.

Parochial and political considerations caused his defeat in the AIFF elections in 1996, when Lakshmanan was finally ready with the blueprint for the launching the NFL, but was appointed as senior vice-president by the then AIFF president, Priyaranjan Das Munsi at the same meeting in Bengaluru. He was elected as AIFF executive president in 2000.

In the meanwhile, his untiring efforts to lift the standard of the game in the country did not go unnoticed as he was appointed by FIFA as a member of its Appeals Committee, the first and only Indian to be bestowed with such a honour. He was a member of the prestigious committee for three four-year terms, besides serving as a member appointed by the AFC to rework on its statutes.

Hailing from the hotbed of Kerala politics – Kannur – Lakshmanan, otherwise a successful businessman in personal life, was a member of the Congress and also served as chairman of the Kannur Municipality for one term. Known for his approach to present even crucial matters in a light-hearted manner, Lakshmanan was “Lakshmanettan” (Elder brother) to all those who was associated with him.

Inflicted with Parkinson’s disease, he was keeping indifferent health for some time now. He will be sorely missed.

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