KOCHI: It has been a good six years since the state government agreed to allocate five acres for a dedicated football academy in Kochi and four months since the Chief Minister reiterated that promise to the Kerala Football Association.
To this date, neither the state government nor the district administration has got any firm directive that the procedure for land acquisition be set in motion.
Excise Minister and Ernakulam District Football Association president K Babu, while speaking to Express, said the availability of land is proving to be a hurdle. “The proposal to give five acres for a football academy still stands but the availability of land is a big problem in Kochi. We have not been able to identify land for the purpose,” Babu said.
Ernakulam District Collector P I Sheikh Pareeth admitted as much saying he was yet to receive a communication regarding the matter from the government.
“I haven’t received any notification on the matter. But if there is a demand, the government has land in Kakkanad and Irumbanam that can be allotted for a football academy,” he said.
Express has learnt from reliable sources though that the KFA has identified suitable land in Ernakulam district itself. It was up to the government to take it forward, they pointed out.
KFA president K M I Mather said the government has agreed to issue an order to the District Collector to identify land for the academy. “Everything is expected to fall in place in the next two months,” Mather said.
Sports Minister K B Ganesh Kumar was not available for comment though he had said a couple of months back that plans were afoot to build a football school in Ernakulam with synthetic turf, referring to the proposal to develop the Government High School Ground in Panampilly Nagar after Real Madrid representatives offered to set up a football school on March 25.
During the valedictory function of ‘Goal 2012’ all-Kerala inter-collegiate football tournament organised by The New Indian Express, Oommen Chandy, on February 10, had said, “The state govt had decided to provide five acres of land for setting up a full-fledged football academy in Kochi way back in 2006. But due to the announcement of elections, the decision could not be implemented. But, now the government is ready to implement the decision if KFA comes forward with the demand.”
It is a moot question when this promise will see the light of the day.
(Tomorrow: Woo back the fans with dedicated football stadium)