It is one of the country’s most popular football clubs with a huge fanbase. Kerala Blasters’ move to temporarily stop its women’s team’s activities has come as a surprise to many.
Why should the women suffer for the problems created by the men’s team (the national body AIFF fined the Blasters Rs 4 crore for their ISL walkout in March), is the big question doing the rounds.
But former international Bentla D’coth was surprised.
“It is their decision, but it is not very expensive to run a women’s team,” said Bentla, who was a big star when Kerala was among the strong sides in women’s football many years ago, who later became a referees instructor and is now a coach too.
“It could come to about Rs 50 lakh to run one season. And for a club like Don Bosco (a Kochi-based club which played the Kerala Women’s League), the players’ salary is about Rs 10 lakh for the entire team of about 25 players. Add to that accommodation and other expenses and it could come to Rs 25 lakh.”
Amrutha Aravind, who led Chennai’s Sethu FC to the Indian Women’s League title a few years ago and who coached Bengaluru’s Kickstart FC to the runner-up spot in the last IWL, feels that many of the clubs have just a short-term outlook when it comes to women’s football in Kerala.
“Most of the clubs are just result-oriented, not development-oriented. They have just short-term goals. They just want to run the women’s team for the club’s prestige and have some activity in the few months before tournaments,” she said.
“Except Gokulam Kerala FC (the current IWL champion), no other club thinks seriously about women’s football.”
P. Anilkumar, the general secretary of the Kerala Football Association, had a similar view.
“If a club has a long-term plan and a proper club structure, the officials will build their own office, their own practice facilities and that property itself will be a big asset for them,” said Anilkumar, in a chat with Sportstar, on Tuesday.
“Even if they don’t want to continue the club later, they can sell off the property. Here, every year they are running behind someone to get the ground, fighting with somebody for training grounds or to get into the stadium and then access is denied by someone. In this situation, how can we say that they have long-term plans?”
But Malavika, one of the big names in the Kerala Blasters women’s team and its leading goal-getter, chose to remain quiet when asked about her reaction.
Probably, her silence spoke out loud and clear about her agony.
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