It was an evening like never before for a Santosh Trophy-winning team. For, big cash awards were presented to the Kerala team which claimed the National football title in Malappuram recently.
Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare, rewarded the team with Rs. 1 crore with VPS’ India head Hafiz Ali Ullat and Corporate Communications head Rajeev Mangottil presenting the cheque at a function here on Friday.
The team’s goalscorers also received Rs. 10 lakh and the presence of the captains and coaches of Kerala’s six previous triumphant Santosh Trophy teams made it all the more memorable. The former captains and coaches were presented with gold coins.
“Such big cash awards…this has never happened before for a Santosh Trophy-winning team and to think of honouring former coaches and captains is a great gesture. Not many think of such things. This will surely inspire the younger generation,” said football great I.M. Vijayan, who along with Jo Paul Ancheri and Asif Saheer, lit up the evening.
Vijayan requested Dr. Shamsheer to start a grassroots-level academy in Kerala. “That will help Kerala produce more talented players and build strong teams for the future. Qatar had started an academy a few years ago and now they have some very talented players and a strong team,” said the former India captain.
Kerala captain Jijo Joseph, head coach Bino George, T.A. Jaffer, a member of the Kerala team which won the Santosh Trophy for the first time in 1973 and who coached Kerala to the title twice later, coach M. Peethambaran, who also guided the team to the title twice, were among those who spoke.
Kurikesh Mathew, Sylvester Ignatius, V. Sivakumar, Rahul V. Raj – all captains of Kerala’s triumphant Santosh Trophy teams in the past – and Anitha Sathyan, wife of former Kerala captain V.P. Sathyan, were also present at the event.