“To win is important,but to prepare is vital”

ME.Balagopala Kurup.

FIFA has gone on record that India was the first Asian country to take to football. As everywhere this game was introduced to this small state of Kerala on the southern most part of India by the British soldiers used to have their Saturday afternoon football matches as a social ritual. Prior to 1956 Kerala was composed of three seperate units of VIZ, the Princely state of Travencore,Cochin and British ruled Malabar-part of the erstwhile Madras State. Since the formation of State of Kerala in 1957 Kerala Football Association (KFA) came to existance with its district units. Now, fifty years have gone and we can be proud of the glittering past of Kerala in the arena of soccer.

Kerala had made a mark in administratiuon , organising tournaments, producing outstanding footballers and initiating developmental activities and we were a unique state in football in the former days. Realizing this the Asian Football Confederation has decided to impliment the Vision Asia programme in our state after observing the progress of the scheme in Delhi and Manipur. Though the AFC wants to have one or two centres to develop football at the grassroot level the Kerela Football Association took up the matter with the Kerala state sports council. Considering the popularity of football all over the state the Kerala state sports council and the Kerala Football Association decided to impliment this project jointly with the help and guidence of the government of Kerala. As such there were a number of discussions with Sri.M Vijayakumar, sports minister & Sri.M.A Baby, Education Minister and an encouraging decision was evolved to impliment this credible project in seven districts VIZ, Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur at the begining and in the remaining 7 districts after one year.

Soon after, there were a number of discussions between the officials of AIFF, AFC, the two ministers, officials of Kerala State Sports Council and KFA with FIFA president Mr.Joseph.S.Blatter, AFC president Sri.Mohammed Bin Hamam Al-Abulla, AFC secretary Dato Paul Moni Samuel, AIFF general secretary Mr.Alberto Colaco, Brendan Menton, Director for Vision Asia and other AFC experts. After discussion it was decided to begin Vision India Project Kerala in 56 centres, eight centres in each of the 7 districts selected for the first year.

A three-tier committee system was framed for the implimentation of the project. A state level committee has been constituted to take policy dicisions and to liaison with officials of AIFF and AFC. District level committees in all the 7 districts have been formed including Government officials, heads of institutions, officials of district sports councils and district FAS, heads of local bodies and other state holders. The district committee is to convey the policy dicisions to the school level committee and monitor the implimentation of the project at each centre. A school committee is constituted at every centre for the effective implimentation of the project at the respective centres. This committee has to provide refreshments to the wards on the days of training.

The selection of the centres was done by a screening committee appointed by the state commiitte according to the norms approved by AFC. Likewise a selection commiittee was appointed in each district to select a maximum of 40 young talents under the age of eleven, according to the selection norms prepared by the experts of AFC.

Before the commencement of the training programme a full coaching course was organised at Calicut and Trivandrum under the leadership of the AFC coach instructor Mr. Ekendra Singh and about 60 coaches were trained. Moreover in all the 7 districts a referee's clinic was conducted by the AFC referee's instructor Mr.Micheal Andrews and about 100 referees were recruited for officiating the matches of school league, district league and state league of Vision India Project Kerala.

A oneday workshop was conducted at Calicut and Pathanamthitta in order to provide training in administration to a huge mass of organisers from 7 districts. The AFC expert Sri.Annadurai conducted the workshop beautifully well giving a clear cut idea about the administrative process for successful implimentation of the project.

After the thorough preparation of the basic needs including the supply of playing kits, footwear,footballs, etc.. to all the 2240 selected players the coaching camps were started by 1st April 2008. The training went on at every centre 3 days in a week. After three months every school conducted school league matches on Saturdays a number of times and a team was selected to participate in the district league. District school league matches were organised in all the seven districts and was completed by 31st December 2008. The champion centre from each district was well trained and Vision Asia Project Kerala State schools league was hosted by Ernakulam at Maharajas collage grounds from 13-05-2009 to 21-05-2009.

Price money was awarded to the winner, runner up and the 3rd place winner amounting to Rs 1,00,000/- Rs 50,000/- and Rs 25,000/- respectively. Govt vocational Higher Secondary School Mampad, malappuram became the first winner of the football fest. St. Joseph's Boys Higher Secondary School, Calicut became the runner up and Sacred Heart higher secondary school, Thevara, Cochin got the 3rd place. This event, no doubt, has created a high sensation all over the state as the implimentation of the project is going to be highly beneficial to the future generation.

Really speaking the people of Kerala, particularly the football fraternity owes much to the Government of Kerala, Kerala State Sports Council, KFA, AIFF and AFC. The Kerala sports council is meeting all the initial expenses including the equipment to players. AFC has extended their technical assistance in all