By Shoubhik Mukhopadhyay,
AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: ‘God’s own country’ Kerala is days away from making a comeback into the I-League, all thanks to Gokulam Kerala FC and the passionate owner of the Malappuram-based club, Shri Gokulam Gopalan who left no major business field unearthed including food and beverage, drinking water, healthcare, film production, hotels and restaurants, and now finally, he steps into the world of football with Gokulam Football Club.
Days before making their I-League debut, Shri Gopalan speaks at length and shares his thoughts about starting his football venture, responsibilities and message for Kerala exclusively with www.i-league.org.
What prompted you to start the football venture?
‘Prompted’ is something which is done based on certain expected results. In our case, it was not the same. Football in many ways is a part of life in this part of the world. I myself was a footballer in my school & college days, so the attraction to do something for the game was just a natural instinct.
Now I would say “the present state of football in the country and Kerala” prompted me to take up the initiative now.
Kerala is famous for its vibrant football fanaticism. What will be Gokulam Kerala FC’s approach to tapping into them?
Vibrancy, yes, I agree with it. But fanaticism is a bit of a negative connotation to the same. As I said, football for us in some ways is a way of living the life. First and foremost, there is a huge “respect” for the game which is the primary emotion related to the game.
Secondly, there is an abundance of ‘Natural’ talents in the state of Kerala. So, if you ask me what would be our approach, it would simply be “Nurturing Natural talents”. If that is taken care of properly, the total plan will fall into place.
Kerala comes back to I-League after a long time. What challenges are you facing now?
I am an optimist in all the true senses – so the challenges are actually opportunities for us. The key challenge will be for us is the Infrastructure, both at the micro level as well as the macro level.
The basic facilities like the quality of grounds, floodlights are to be addressed. These are the basic needs of this glorious game and we have a huge vacuum. So, at first, that needs to be addressed.
What’ll be your responsibilities in terms of expanding Football in Kerala?
More than expanding-our prime focus is BUILDING, be in terms of talent identification or nurturing them. The key area would be providing with the infrastructure and opportunities for them to showcase their talent. If these simple yet tough steps can be achieved, the results are just a by-product. Our primary focus would be working on the basics at the first place.
What’ll be your target for the first I-League season?
As an ethos of our group- we basically work towards a goal- so, in this case, we are working towards reach the top three this season.