With more than a hundred football academies, young players in Malappuram get ample opportunities to hone their skills and climb their way up.
But it’s also turning out to be a bit of a problem.
“With so many quality players, it’s very tough to select the district team,” said C. Shanil, the Malappuram coach, in a chat with Sportstar after his team’s victory in the Kerala State Junior Championship here on Wednesday evening. Malappuram defeated host Ernakulam 4-2 in the final.
“There’s an academy in every village in Malappuram. So players get more opportunities than ever before, they also have many local tournaments on natural and artificial turf.”
No wonder, Malappuram is considered as Kerala’s leading football nursery.
THE CRUX FROM FOUR ACADEMIES
The majority of the players in the triumphant team came from four residential academies or schools in the district.
“Thirteen of our 20 players came from these residential schools...Muthoot FC, MAC, MSP and Chelambra, near Calicut University,” said Shanil who had played the Santosh Trophy for Puducherry earlier.
The team had a three-week camp and had played six friendly matches before coming to Kochi.
Malappuram was down 1-2 in the final against host Ernakulam but it turned things around smartly with three goals in an eight-minute spell late in the second half.
“I think we are physically fitter than Ernakulam, that played a crucial part in our victory. That allowed us to come back strongly late in the second half,” said Shanil.
“We are used to 90-minute matches but here it was 70 minutes.”
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