Santosh Trophy: Memorable occasion for Cleofas Alex

For Tamil Nadu’s assistant coach Cleofas Alex, who hails from Pozhiyoor, it will be a memorable occasion to see 12 of his wards playing in the country’s premier championship.

Cleofas Alex is now the technical director of the Little Flower Football Academy (LIFFA) the ambitious project launched by the Arch Diocese of Thiruvananthapuram to nurture football players.   -  Special Arrangement

Fishing hamlets of Pozhiyoor in Thiruvananthapuram and Tuthoor in Kanyakumari districts have produced many outstanding footballers. Twelve players hailing from the two villages will be seen in action in the qualifying round of the Santosh Trophy Football championships for different teams this season.

For Tamil Nadu’s assistant coach Cleofas Alex, who hails from Pozhiyoor, it will be a memorable occasion to see 12 of his wards playing in the country’s premier championship. "It gives me immense joy. I have been into coaching for nearly 14 years and it is for the first time that so many of my trainees are playing in Santosh Trophy at the same time. Some of them will be playing against each other in the tournament and as a coach I don’t have any favourites and I want all of them to do well," said the AFC ‘A’ license holder who also holds the FIFA senior coaching license.

Four players from Tamil Nadu including captain A. Raegan, S.Shino, Jockson Das and Finu Favas were trainees of Cleofas. S.Seesan ,the elder brother of Shino, S. Lijo, Melbin and Joby Justin, who will be representing Kerala in this Santosh Trophy, were trainees of SMRC under Cleofas Alex. Subash (Karnataka), Midhun Velvet (Himachal Pradesh) Britto (Services), S.Rajesh (Indian Railways) are other trainees of Cleofas who will be participating in the Santosh Trophy football championship this season.

A former footballer who represented Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, the Cleofas Alex first started training young kids at the panchayat stadium for AFC’s Vision India project in 2002. As the young kids matured, United Kerala FC club was formed and the club went on to win the Thiruvananthapuram D division football title under Cleofas in 2006.

Cleofas also coached SMRC the Thiruvananthapuram district A division side and it qualified for the super league. As traditional football centres in coastal areas dwindled due to rapid urbanisation, SMRC has been the nursery for producing talented footballers in Thriuvananthapuram and Cleofas was instrumental in nurturing many of them.

Cleofas is now the technical director of the Little Flower Football Academy (LIFFA) the ambitious project launched by the Arch Diocese of Thiruvananthapuram to nurture football players. Cleofas now divideds his time with LIFFA and Sethu FC. Now working chief coach of Sethu FC, the professional club from Madurai, which is based in Thriuvananthapuram, "I was given the opportunity to built the squad from scratch and the club management gave me all the freedom. Majority of the players are my trainees.Some of them spurned good offers from clubs in Goa to join Sethu FC.

"The team has won the Maduari Senior division league title for the last two years. We are trying to get into second division league in the future,’’ said Cleofas who also been the coach of Tamil Nadu sub-junior football team in 2009 and assistant coach of Tamil Nadu under-21 and junior teams in the past.

The soft-spoken coach who believes in delivering results has finally got his due.

  Dugout videos