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Kerala’s passion for football finds expression in FIFA’s streaming platform

By P.K. Ajith Kumar

Kerala’s triumph at the recent Santosh Trophy saw football becoming a talking point once again.

Some 27,000 fans thronged the Malappuram District Sports Complex Stadium, at Payyanad near Manjeri, long before the kick-off of the final between Kerala and Bengal. Some of them had paid ₹800 in the black market for a ticket worth ₹200.

For those who have been to Malappuram, that would not come across as a surprise at all. The district boasts some of Kerala’s most passionate football fans, but the sport is loved in rest of the State too.

A 40-minute documentary film Maitaanam, being streamed on FIFA+, the world football governing body’s official website for videos, takes a close look at the game in Kerala. The video, produced by RISE Worldwide, traces Kerala’s passion for football through some fascinating stories.

We get to listen to Rufus D’Souza, who has been training budding footballers in Kochi for the last 50 years. We are introduced to Pozhiyoor, a fishing hamlet near Thiruvananthapuram that has become a nursery for Kerala football.

There are also interesting segments about the women’s team of Gokulam Kerala and the unique brand of football played in Malappuram, called ‘sevens’.

It is a well-made video and has some lovely visuals. It is produced by James Rego, who heads broadcast and production at RISE Worldwide, and is directed by Misha Kumar.

Rego says the idea about a documentary on Kerala occurred to him when FIFA wanted to know if India could contribute to FIFA+. “I have been to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi for producing both cricket and football, and the passion I saw for football was amazing,” he told The Hindu over phone. “There were some 70,000 inside the stadium and another 20,000 outside. And, when you walk around, you see people in yellow [the colour of the Kerala Blasters jersey],” he said.

You can watch Maitaanam here: https://www.fifa.com/fifaplus/en/watch/movie/2ARQQb0UwgKBAKWj4WZrT

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