Clubs in the Indian Super League (ISL) pay big money for some of its top Indian players with Kerala stars K.P. Rahul and Sahal Abdul Samad fetching Rs. 2.5 crore or more.
Navas Meeran, the new Kerala Football Association president, wants to change the lives of the State’s young players by guiding them into this big-money highway.
“I was Idukki DFA president and we have an academy in Kumily. One boy from there has been selected for Chennaiyin FC and they paid Rs 25 lakh for him. If we can help some 200 players earn Rs 1 crore, that will transform their lives,” said Navaz, who is also the chairman of the Meeran Group, here on Sunday.
“K.P. Rahul gets something like Rs 2.8 crore, Sahal Samad gets Rs 2.5 crore (in the ISL).”
For this, Navaz plans to activate the grassroots-level in a big way.
“From this year onwards, as a pilot project, we plan to select seven districts (from Kerala’s 14) in every age group between 13 and 21 years, pick the top five registered and unregistered clubs and academies from each of these districts and have home and away matches between them,” he said.
“Each club will play three rounds of home and away matches against each other. That will mean there will be around 2100 matches being played in Kerala in the coming season. Last year, we had some 700 matches and this number will go up in a big way in the future.”
FEEDER GROUP FOR ISL CLUBS
The plan is to select 50 players from each age group and give them long-term coaching. This will act as a feeder group for ISL and I-League clubs for their development teams and put the young players on their road to the big stage.
The new KFA chief believes the cost of the project will not be big because players will be playing within their districts.
PLAN TO TAP SCHOOL GROUNDS
But with more than 2000 matches being planned, the project will need many more grounds and for this, the plan is to involve private and public schools to use their grounds. Plans are on to also increase the number of coaches, referees and to upgrade their skills and also to help women’s football grow in a big way.
“In Kerala, most of the stadiums are multi-purpose grounds where fans are unable to get the real football experience. If we can have some eight football-specific stadiums, it will be good for the sport,” said Navas.
LOOKING AT THE RIGHT TIME SLOT FOR KSL
He mentioned eight because the Kerala Super League, which is expected to start late this year or in 2024 and which will be run by a private company Scoreline, will have that many teams in the first or second year.
“Whenever the time looks right we will start the KSL. We are almost there, we are looking for the right time slot. We don’t want to have a prolonged league. For a start, we are looking at something like 40 days or two months,” said Navas.
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