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Kerala Blasters U-17 trials stopped as MLA locks Panampilly Ground Gate

U-17 trials of Kerala Blasters took an unexpected turn today when MLA Sreenijan, locked the gates of the Panampilly Ground where the trials were scheduled to take place.

Kerala Blasters U-17 trials stopped as MLA locks Panampilly Ground Gate

Panampilly Training Ground in Kerala


Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 22 May 2023 11:18 AM GMT

The U-17 trials of Kerala Blasters took an unexpected turn on Monday when MLA Sreenijan, a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from CPI (M), locked the gates of the Panampilly Ground where the trials were scheduled to take place.

The incident left young aspiring footballers from all corners of Kerala, including those who had traveled great distances, stranded outside the premises.

The trials, which were slated to commence at 7:00 AM, were a golden opportunity for these budding athletes to showcase their skills and potentially secure a spot in the Kerala Blasters' youth team. Eager youngsters from various cities and towns across the state had eagerly made their way to Kochi, some even arriving the previous day, fueled by their dreams of wearing the famous yellow jersey.

However, their hopes were quickly dashed as they arrived at the Panampilly Ground only to find the gates firmly shut, denying them access to the trials. Confusion and disappointment set in as the young footballers realised they were being kept from their chance to impress the scouts and coaches present at the venue.

According to Sreenijan, the football club owes outstanding rent for utilizing the ground. However, contrasting statements from the sports council, responsible for managing the facility, suggest a different story.

The sports council, which oversees the Panampilly Ground, has countered MLA Sreenijan's claims, asserting that the Kerala Blasters have already cleared all their dues until April. They state that there are no pending payments, leaving the motives behind the MLA's actions in question.

Sports council president Sharafali told Mathrubhumi, "Kerala Blasters have not failed to pay anything to the sports council. They have paid the amount until April. We have a contract with them, and Kerala Blasters have all the rights to use the ground, they have been using it for years we never had any issues. The kids who traveled long distances are staying outside the gate. The MLA should be more considerate."

The Bridge reached out to an official from Kerala Blasters, who stated, "The club has fulfilled all its financial obligations, so we are unsure why the MLA is taking this action. This is truly disappointing and heartbreaking for everyone involved. We have a contract with sports council."

The MLA also was seen locking the gates of the Government higher secondary school Panampilly Nagar, which forced the children and parents to stand out in the sun.

A concerned parent, whose child was among those standing outside the locked gate, added, "We have traveled to Kochi, covering a distance of almost 300 kilometers. We had to book a room for a few hours of sleep, as we couldn't afford to stay for an entire day. Many of the kids standing here are in a similar situation. Despite our financial constraints, we made the effort to come here to support our children's dreams. The MLA should show more understanding and empathy. This is not the time to initiate a revenge scenario for whatever reason."

Moreover, the sports council has asserted that Kerala Blasters can move legally as they have all the receipts and documents for the payments made.

The gate was finally opened around 10:00 am. It wasn't until after 11am that the trials were started, the youngsters forced to stake their claim to a berth in the scorching heat.

After opening the gate the latest allegation from MLA Sreenijan is directed to the sports council that they did not inform him about the contract or the club clearing the dues.

"State sports council hasn't informed district sports council that they've a contract with Kerala Blasters. If there's such a contract the state sports council should lawfully inform the district council. If some kid gets injured or get into some accident here, tomorrow you'll ask us not them," he told Manorama.

Kerala Congress MP Hibi Eden slammed the actions of MLA Sreenijan while talking to Media One, "MLA doesn't have to interfere in this when there are more severe cases like Brahmapuran needs attention. The club owes no money to the sports council, it is very unfair to treat the kids who traveled from all-over Kerala just to attend the trials this way. MLA has absolutely no rights to shut the gates of the stadium."

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