Overall, the state government announced the launch of three football academies – two of which are for girls.

On Thursday, the Government of Kerala (GoK) announced its plans to set up residential football academies across the state. Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters and reigning Indian Women’s League (IWL) champions Gokulam Kerala will operate the academies. The academies will be based out of Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur. They are meant for the U-14, U-17 and U-20 age categories for both boys and girls.

The boys’ residential academy will set up in Thiruvananthapuram, while Kannur will have the girls’ academy.

The details

Khel Now understands that Kerala Blasters will be in-charge of operations of the boys’ residential academy at the reputed G.V. Raja Sports School in the state’s capital, and that Gokulam Kerala will operate the girls’ academy at the Government Sports School in Kannur – both as part of five-year deals. The two academies are named ‘Sports Kerala Elite Residential Football Academy’ – for boys and girls respectively.

A third academy – also for girls – will function under the guidance of the Kerala state Sports Council, out of the Panampilly Nagar Sports School in Kochi.

“For a while, the Government of Kerala have wanted to involve Kerala Blasters and Gokulam Kerala, two of the best professional teams in the state, as operators for football academies. Both teams recently won the government tender for the same, and the wheels are finally in motion,” sources close to the developments had informed Khel Now last week. We also understand that other professional outfits including Bengaluru FC had shown interest in the project.

“Kerala Blasters and Gokulam Kerala won bids which amount to ₹4 Lakhs and ₹3 Lakhs per month, respectively. GoK will release the payments to the respective clubs, based on some milestones set by the department. When the bid was initially floated, Gokulam Kerala were the only bidder for the women’s academy. Then they re-tendered the bid to bring in other parties. In the end, the Malabarians only won it,” our sources further added.

Khel Now has also learned that TG Purushothaman, the head coach of the Kerala Blasters’ Reserves team, are among those in consideration to take charge of the U-20 boys’ category at the Thiruvananthapuram academy. A final decision will be taken in the coming days.

Work done by state government

The Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs, Kerala have promised the best of facilities for the academies’ students.

Artificial football turfs of international standards, top-quality sports equipments, an advanced sports medicine and rehabilitation system, strength and conditioning experts, scientifically prepared diet plans, a data management analysis platform to review the development and progress of every student, and an educational system of international standards are some of the things that they are looking to implement.

The scouting for the academies will be done all across the state. As mentioned above, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the project on Thursday.

“Not so long ago, Kerala had good women’s teams in football. We aim to return to the glory days. The government also plans to promote girls’ football at school and college levels. It’s encouraging that several private football academies are sprouting out throughout the state. But, it’s been found that some are not doing justice. Their greed is destroying the careers of players. We should not encourage that,” Vijayan said.

He further added that the government is planning to set up playgrounds under all local bodies. He said, “The process of developing basic sports infrastructure to the tune of ₹1000 Crores is ongoing in the state. Once complete, the state will have 40 new football grounds.”

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