As a little kid, Jipson Justus used to rush out to the Vizhinjam beach every day to play. With few facilities at home, he was at the beach most of the time, often playing football
On Tuesday, Jipson led Thiruvananthapuram to the Kerala State junior football title at Muvattupuzha, defeating Thrissur 6-5 in sudden death.
“It’s the beginning of a big dream,” said 18-year-old Justus, the Thiruvananthapuram captain. “I want to play for the country one day.”
Justus, the son of a fisherman, is halfway down the highway to fame. A few months ago, he was named as Kerala’s ‘Junior Footballer of the Year.’ He has been playing for the State Bank of Travancore’s junior team for the last couple of years, after being spotted by the bank’s former coach N.M. Najeeb, and a few weeks ago, he won a contract to play for the senior SBT team.
Fisher folk children
Boys from the beach played a big role in Thiruvananthapuram’s triumph, which came after five years, at the picturesque Nirmala College Ground.
“In fact, almost 12 of our 18-member team come from coastal areas like Vizhinjam, Pulluvilla and Pozhiyur… most of them are children of fishermen,” said the Thiruvananthapuram coach Sanal Kumar.
“When we announced the trials to select the district team, some 160 boys turned up. Nearly 100 were from coastal areas. Most of these boys come from very poor families, football helps them change their lives.”
Despite the hard life back home, the sandy beaches give the children a huge advantage.
“They are very fit, running on the beach makes them very strong, you just have to teach them the technique, they turn into top-class footballers,” said Sanal, a former State player.
Former Kerala Santosh Trophy captain Sylvester Ignatius, a gem from Thiruvananthapuram’s beaches, is a classic case.
Four of the Thiruvananthapuram boys play in the SBT junior team and three figure in the Viva Kerala junior side. The team’s goalkeeper is R. Sreeraj, son of former Kerala custodian Rajeev Kumar, who did a fine job under the bar.
Article by Stan Rayan
Source: The Hindu