Kerala Football Association
About Kerala Football Association - KFA

A brief history of Kerala Football Association and the game in Kerala



The wonderful game of football has been a passion of hundreds of thousands of Malayalees for the last several decades-- much before the tiny state of Kerala was born on November 1, 1956.

Amateur clubs,  popular and skilful football players from the erstwhile Malabar, the princely states of  Kochi and Travancore  carved  a niche for  themselves  with  their fighting qualities and brilliant  craft  from the 1930s   to the 1960s, entertaining  millions of football fans from Thiruvananthapuram to  Kasaragode.

Teams  from  Karachi  and Bengal  besides  British military teams  used to participate in  early  football tournaments  organized  by  dedicated  football  lovers  in Malabar, Trvancore and  in the port city of   Ernakulam.

HMC Kottayam, Calicut Young Challengers, Brothers, Lucky Star, Gymkhana (Kannur), and popular clubs in  Malappuram, Palakkad, Fort Kochi, Ernakulam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram  produced    well  known players such as  Kottayam Saleh,  James Fenn and Thiruvalla Pappan (T D Varghese), Thrissur Antony, Pappu, Leiban, D’cruz, Olympians T A Rahman and O. Chandrasekharan, Chidanandan, R Balakrishnan, Petta Ravi, Moideen Kutty, goalkeeper Mustafah, Dr. Rajagopal, Thiruvalla Thomas, Balagopal, T K Chathunni, Sathyan, Jayaram, Balakrishnan,Indrabalan, Malappuram Aziz, Ramakirshnan  etc etc.

Clubs  such as  Premier Tyres, Kalamassery, Alind Kundara, KSRTC, AG’s Office, Young Challengers, Titanium   and  Kerala Police followed by  F C Kochin, India’s first professional football club, and Viva Kerala  helped produce   a new breed of talented footballers  and  spread the fame of Kerala  across the country.  Kerala Police, in fact, nine Indian footballers and  has lifted the Federation Cup in 1990 and 1991 while F C Kochin  became the first Kerala team to win the prestigious Durand Cup, beating Mohun Bagan, in 1997. Alind Kundara, FACT,   Premier Tyres and Kerala Police had won many national tournaments too.

Inspired  by the glory those wonderful  dedicated  players( some of them  even became very popular in   Bombay, Madras, Goa  and  Bengal as well), Kerala  saw the birth of  talented  players  such as  Mani, the hat-trick hero and captain of  the victorious 1973  Santhosh trohphy team, Jaffar, Williams, Devanand, Najimuddin, C C Jacob,

M M Jacob, Victor Manjila, Sethumadhavan, Xaviour Pious, Najeeb, Sathyan, Sharf Ali, Pappachan, I M Vijayan , Jo Paul Ancheri  ….to  Mohammed Rafi, Ajayan and Pradeep, Sakeer….

Remember, Kerala has produced five Olympians like Saleh, Rahman, Chandrasekharan, Narayanan and Thiruvalla Pappan in the golden era of Indian football in the 50s and 60s.

Dedicated  coaches like Olympian  Simon Sunder Raj, though  not a Malayalee by birth, former coach of FACT and  Kerala, K. Bharathan, A M Sreedharan, T K Chathunni, C C Jacob, M M Jacob, Peethambaran and the like have  contributed  a lot to the development  of football in the state.   

The Fort Maidan( Kannur), Manachira  maidan( Kozhikode ), Fort maidan (Palakkad) Kottappady MSP Grounds, Malappuram, Durbar Hall Grounds, Ernakulam, Maharaja’s College Grounds, Ernakulam,Parade Ground, Fort Kochi, Nagampadam maidan, Kottayam, Thoppil maidan (Thrissur), football fields at Thiruvanthapuram and Pettah were some of the  well known football fields in the state  which groomed many popular  and international players in the past.


Kerala is indeed indebted to   the late Col. Goda Varma Raja, popularly known as Thirumeni, for paving the way for organized football in Travancore and Cochin.

Thirumeni was instrumental in organizing  the Asian Cup qualifying round tournament, involving Israel, Iran, Pakistan  and India, at the  Maharaja’s College Grounds, Ernakulam  in 1959   and   had spearheaded  a team of organizers  in hosting the  Santosh Trophy for the first time  in Kerala  in  1956.

In fact, these two major events   enhanced  the popularity of the  game across  the state  with  players of international repute such as  Levi (Israel), Qayyum Chenghazi and Ummer (Pakistan), Peter Thankaraj, Jarnail Singh, Chuni Goswami, Balaram, Lathif, Zulfiquar, P K Banerjee, Devadas, Narayanan, Rahman  (India) becoming  stars overnight.

There  was a time when   Kerala   hosted  some eight  all India  football tournaments every year namely  Kerala Trophy, G V Raja Trophy, Mammen Mappilay Cup, Nehru Cup, Chacholas Gold Cup, Sait Nagjee Trophy and S N Trophy. Top clubs from Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa, Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Bangalore, and Madras besides many military teams and their skilful   players were household names in Kerala then.


Indeed, those were the glorious days of football in the state.

G V Raja played a key role in the formation of the Kerala Football Association (KFA) way back in 1948 and headed the association having its base in Thiruvananthapuram.

Later the  headquarters of KFA was moved to  Kollam  after P Laxmanan Pillai was elected  president and K Thankappan  Honorary Secretary.KFA  saw  a new breed of organizers  taking over the reins of KFA in the 70s with  former Mayor of  Cochin  A K Seshadri becoming the president.

Later past presidents such as A. K. Seshadri, T. O. Abdulla (Ernakulam), who went on to become the Vice President of All India Football Federation, and P P Laxmanan (Kannur), who later became the Hon. Secretary and Executive President of AIFF and President of Saarc Football Federation, and the present president K M I Mather steered KFA with a sense of direction, albeit there had been ups and downs too. They were   ably supported by the hardworking Hon. Secretaries U P Johny (Thrissur), K Bhodannadan (Thiruvananthapuram), K. Sugunan (Kollam) and K P Sunny (Thrissur) in the past.

Now KFA   has its first fulltime secretary in P Anil Kumar, a former Services football  player and DFB – B Licence holder, who has been appointed in accordance with the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and AIFF statutes and guidelines.

In the past, KFA had  hosted  many  national events like  Santosh Trophy 1954, 1955-56, 56-57, 1960-61,65-66,73-74, 75-76, 81-82, 87-88, 90-91,92-93,99-2000 and 2005-06, Federations Cup 1977, 82, 90,93, and 1996, youth, junior and sub-junior tournaments besides women competitions,  and international  championships such  as  the Nehru Trophy  1983, 1985, 1987, 1990-91,and 1997-98,  Asian Cup 1956 and  Sahara Cup 1999-2000.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and All India Football Federation (AIFF) have entrusted KFA to launch the Vision India (Kerala)   project with the wholehearted support of Kerala Sports Council and various Centres in the state. This project is aimed at popularizing the game at school levels. Presently 91 centers in 14 districts actively participating in Vision Kerala venture. More and more schools are expected to join this programme in the immediate future. KFA has also mooted programmes to popularize the game at taluk and panchayath areas.

KFA has set its eyes on the ambitious GOAL project   by football’s supreme governing body the FIFA.

Yes, KFA is on the move for the development of football   in Kerala and to bring back the glory of the game.


----Courtesy: Bhasi Malaparamba, A M Sreedharan,  D Shijumon, Mathrubhumi


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