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When friendship served as the goalpost

Football tournament brings together communities along the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border

To foster relationships between Tamilians and Malayalis residing along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and to get youngsters outdoors, an inter-State football competition, hosted on a flooded farm, was organised in Thaloor in Pandalur taluk on Sunday.

The ‘Mud Football’ competition, in which 20 teams from the two States participated, was organised by the Department of Physical Education, Nilgiri College Sports Academy, which is part of the Nilgiri College of Arts and Science in Thaloor.

Speaking to The Hindu, Saril Varghese, Director of Physical Education, said that apart from helping to build relationship among different groups of people living in the region, the tournament would encourage youngsters to get out of their homes and participate in sports and games, even though it’s the monsoon season.

Located in the Nilgiris, the border town of Thaloor has a mixed population of Tamilians and Malayalis, living and working side-by-side.

“We believe that this is the first time such an event is being organised anywhere in the State, with eight football teams from Kannur district, as well as teams from four government schools — two each from Kerala and Karnataka — participating in the mud football and handball tournaments,” said Mr. Varghese.

The youth who took part in the competition, including those from the tribal communities in the region, said that the format of the competition helped build bonds between the different competitors. “As regular football is a contact sport, it becomes highly competitive between different teams. Here, as we were all just enjoying getting dirty in the muddy fields, the focus seemed to be more on having fun rather than winning the game,” said S. Vivian, a student who participated in the tournament.

After a day of action, a local team — Thaloor Brothers — won the overall competition. “This is the second year that such a tournament has been organised, and we hope its success will help bring different communities together,” added Mr. Varghese.

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