Meanwhile in Kerala, couple fund soccer goals of poor children4 min read
AS THE world celebrates one more season of the “beautiful game”, in a coastal hamlet of Kovalam in Kerala, an octogenarian couple is giving wings to the soccer goals of a bunch of gifted however underprivileged kids, principally from the fishermen neighborhood. They even constructed a observe stadium for the kids, who have been in any other case coaching on the seaside.
T J Mathew from Kerala and Sally Mathew from San Francisco have been working within the United States once they met and bought married in 1977. After retirement, as Sally says, “I persuaded him to settle in India.” The couple moved to Kovalam in 1991.
Initially, the couple would assist kids within the neighbourhood with their training. “We formed a small trust to help these children, most of whom were raised by single mothers,” says Mathew. Thus the Mathew/Sally Educational Trust (M/S ET) was shaped and registered as a charitable society.
Later, Mathew chanced upon the Kovalam Football Club, based in 2008 for underprivileged kids by a passionate footballer from Vizhinjam, Ebin Rose, who performed for the Kerala crew when it gained the Santosh Trophy in 2004.
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Kovalam FC went on to develop into the primary membership from Kerala to play within the Under-15 I-League and in addition performed within the Kerala Premier League this yr with an all-local expertise. “My dream is to develop Kovalam FC into a professional football club,” says Ebin, who began taking part in when he was in faculty.
“These boys have inherent skills and talent. But they didn’t have the expertise or money to carry it forward. Shashi Tharoor (Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram), who knew my interest in football, asked if I could help them. It all started then,” says Mathew, who performed soccer on the college degree.
In the start, about six years in the past, the couple provided financial assist to the membership. “But when I watched their game, I realised that the kids had the skill but lacked stamina. My wife found out the reason – their meals were just rice and fish gravy due to poverty. So we started a hostel from a rented place to provide these boys a comfortable environment and required nutrition,” says Mathew, who’s the youthful brother of veteran journalist T J S George.
The couple then raised funds from their members of the family to construct a hostel and a observe stadium. “Now we have a modern facility on three floors that can accommodate 52 children. But since we cannot meet the operational costs, we have 41 as of now,” says Mathew.
Among the 41 kids, all within the 13-19 years age group, 30 are from the fishermen neighborhood, whereas some are from faraway districts like Malappuram and Kasaragod. Besides soccer coaching, the kids are additionally despatched to a close-by faculty to finish their training.
“Mathew has put in more money than he could afford into this and even a part of his residence is being used for the club. With a large vision, he is putting in extraordinary efforts… I am trying to support him whatever way I can. He has a vision, he has passion, he has commitment, and he delivers,” says Tharoor.
Beniston John, 25, from Vizhinjam, who has been with Kovalam FC for over 10 years, says, “Our club started getting recognised more after Mathew Sir and Sally Ma’am came in. We owe it to them for reaching the KPL (Kerala Premier League).”
Manoj M, 20, who joined Kovalam FC when he was in Class 4, says, “We now have a facility to practice together and study.”
A number of kids have gotten sponsorships from teams akin to Muthoot and R M Education Solutions. And there are a couple of dad and mom who pay at the very least Rs 1,000 per 30 days.
The aged couple is now elevating a corpus fund to maintain the ability, the place the common month-to-month expense per baby is about Rs 7,500 at current. “Once the corpus is raised, Sally and I will hang our hats,” says Mathew, including that they’re “just 89 and very young”.
Both Mathew and Sally don’t get entangled within the choice or coaching course of. “I tell Ebin, ‘let’s not focus on winning trophies, let’s make champions’,” says Mathew.
Ebin says they don’t have any standards to pick out kids. “Football is a game God has given to all. We take children and make them talents with the needed support,” he says.
For Mathew and Sally, their largest reward is seeing the kids play and transfer on to greener pastures. “Seven of our children were picked by other clubs. Last year, Gokulam Group recruited four, Tamil Nadu police recruited one, while a Bengaluru club and a Puducherry club recruited one each,” says Mathew.
Sajith Poulose who joined Kovalam FC when he was 16 years outdated, went on to play the Santosh Trophy in 2018, that landed him a job on the Kerala authorities’s training division. “The turning point in my career was provided by Kovalam FC. I grew up playing with them,” says Poulose who joined Kickstart Football Club, Bengaluru, three months in the past.
The coach, nonetheless, is just not so blissful concerning the expertise drain. “But it is natural, as we are not yet a professional club where we can support them financially,” says Ebin, as he hopes that dream will come true, quickly.