While he was working from home around a year ago, S. Akshaynand’s thoughts often strayed to football. The young engineer, who was with Byju’s earlier, had laid two artificial turfs in Alappuzha and had even bought an inactive football club there.
Alappuzha does not have much of a tradition in football and Akshaynand wondered how he could change that.
Around that time, Manipur’s Milan Koijam Meetei, a former junior India camper and a talent scout who frequently supplied quality Northeast players to Kerala clubs, was observing the Kerala scene closely.
“Milan realised that there were a lot of northeast players coming here, so he thought of starting a club. We met through a common friend and that’s how Alappuzha’s Milan Koijam Sporting Club was born,” said Akshaynand, the MK’s managing director, in a chat with The Hindu on Thursday.
With Imphal’s Milan Koijam picking up a major stake and pumping in much of the funds, the club carries his name. He is its chairman too while former KFA vice-president Vijaykumar is the club’s patron.
On Saturday, a team from Alappuzha will make its Kerala Premier League debut with the MK Club coming in as a corporate entry. And it will come with a strong Northeast flavour.
“There are six players from Manipur and one each from Sikkim and Assam. Half our team could be from outside Kerala,” said Akshaynand, an AFC D-licence coach who is more into football management now.
The team has its training base at the Calicut University stadium at Tenhipalam in Malappuram.
“There are no proper facilities for football in Alappuzha,” explained Akshaynand.
The club has roped in former Kerala’s former Santosh Trophy-winning coach Satheevan Balan as its head coach while another prominent name P.K. Rajeev is the technical director.
“Our goal is to reach the KPL semifinal this year and try to qualify for the I-League second division in our second season,” said Akshaynand. “Another target is to connect with a few clubs in India and abroad. We’ve tied up with Hindustan in Delhi and FC Imphal City in Manipur.”