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UAE: Indian entrepreneur honours Kerala football heroes with Dh520,000 in cash prizes

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil had promised the reward if his home state won the match against West Bengal



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 6 May 2022, 6:34 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 May 2022, 9:04 PM

The Kerala football team, winners of India’s prestigious Santosh Trophy, were awarded a cash prize of Dh520,000 by UAE-based Indian entrepreneur Dr Shamsheer Vayalil at a ceremony attended by three generations of players.

Kerala defeated West Bengal 5-4 on penalties to clinch their seventh Santosh Trophy title.

As promised, Dr Vayalil, the chairman and MD of VPS Healthcare, not only gave the big cash prize of Rs10 million (more than Dh477,000) to the triumphant squad, but also added Rs1 million (more than Dh47,700) for the goal scorers during the tournament.

What made the felicitation ceremony in Kochi, Kerala’s biggest city, truly special was the presence of three generations of football players.

Santosh Trophy-winning former captains, Kurikesh Mathew (1993), V. Sivakumar (2001), Sylvester Ignatius (2004) and Rahul Dev (2018) as well as stalwarts like IM Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri and Asif Saheer attended the event.

Also among the attendees were former coaches TA Jaffer and M Peethambaran.

Anitha Sathyan, the wife of late VP Sathyan under who Kerala won the 1992 Santosh Trophy title, also attended the ceremony.

On behalf of Dr Vayalil, who followed the ceremony from Dubai, VPS Healthcare India head, Hafiz Ali Ullat, and corporate communications and CSR head, Dr Rajeev Mangottil, presented the cheque to the victorious squad.

Kerala captain Jijo Joseph said the cash award will be a big motivation for sportspersons.

“I feel that a selfless interest in sports guides decisions like these, which will lead to the growth of sports in the country,” Joseph said.

Vijayan, a legendary football star and former captain of the Indian team, said the event was a “great honour” for players and coaches.

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“I don’t think such an event has ever been held in the state. This gives us immense happiness,” he said, urging Dr Shamsheer to start an academy to unearth talent at the grassroots level in Kerala.

Dr Vayalil hoped that sportspersons would be encouraged to achieve more in their careers.

“It is the collective responsibility of society to recognise their hard work. Victories are not made in a day. For all seven title-winning performances, the players put in a lot of effort. I believe this get-together will document those efforts and lay a strong foundation for the future of football in the state,” he said.

Bino George, the head coach of the current team, thanked Dr Vayalil for bringing all football legends together.

“This cash prize is a motivation, and I am sure more people will come into sports with this kind of support,” the coach added.


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