Colva: Kerala triumphed in the Beach Football Final in the most scintillating fashion as they bossed over hosts Goa in front of a packed crowd.
Goa and Kerala, both of whom predictably reached the final and locked horns for the all-important gold, had a neck-to-neck fight to finish on top. However, Kerala, thanks to their neat performance throughout the game, came out as victors.
However, the standout performer for Kerala was the young Rohith Yesudas, whose inspiring show made it extra special for the visitors in the all-important final.
A fisherman’s son who fought all sorts of adversity while growing up, the 21-year-old broke down in tears while narrating his journey as a footballer.
“It is very, very special to me. It is well known that a fisherman does not earn much, and my father was no exception. There were times we did not have proper food to eat, and yet it was my dad and mom who always helped me pursue my dream as a footballer,” Rohith said.
“The passion for beach football came as our house is very near a beach in Thiruvananthapuram. So, one can say I grew up on that beach,” he added.
Rohith, a regular starter for Travancore Royals FC, India’s first fan-owned football club, however, is keen on representing India in beach soccer in the days to come.
“It’s a massive boost for beach football, and given how passionate Kerala is about football, it’s a matter of time before the popularity for this format grows immensely,” Rohith said.
“There are so many talented footballers who are truly passionate about beach football. With this win, we are hopeful that the next chapter of beach football in Kerala will commence soon, and the youth will have further motivation to pick up this sport as a career,” he added.
Rohith had a personal tragedy just ahead of Kerala’s first game in the event as he lost his paternal grandfather, who he says was instrumental for his growth as a footballer.
“I dedicate this victory to him. He was a passionate football lover, and he would have been joyous to have received the news of Kerala winning the gold. The next step is to play for India in the days to come,” Rohith said.
“Time for Beach Football to Grow”
The man behind Kerala’s resounding success is perhaps coach Sashin Chandran who led the team from the sidelines and motivated the footballers even when Goa took a formidable 4-2 lead in the second period of the game.
“We were confident of leaving Goa with gold. One could see how doggedly the footballers performed even when the chips were down. We never gave up for once and deservingly won today,” Chandran said.
Chandran is hopeful that with this successful beach football event in Goa, this exciting 5-a-side format will finally receive all the attention it deserves.
“The time is ripe for beach football to grow. I am sure the All India Football Federation will take all necessary steps to promote an exciting format, and there will be an Indian team in the days to come. Kerala has shown the way. I am sure other states will soon come forward to do the same,” Chandran added.