Kochi, April 29 (IANS) I-League second division football club Ernakulam Eagles have tied up with English Premier League (EPL) club Reading FC for a talent hunt programme.
The club was launched in 1956 and has among its members well-known political figures like A.K. Antony, Vayalar Ravi and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
The two clubs last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which the famed English club would send coaches and identify players for training at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.
“We have been having discussions with the Reading Football Club authorities for a while and just the other day their chairman Chris Samuelson and CEO of the club Nigel Howe, who was here, have inked an MoU for cooperation with Eagles FC,” said club director Shaffi Mather told IANS.
“Currently Eagles FC are playing in the second division and Reading officials have assured that if our club enters the first division, they would pump in money into our club. For the time being, they have agreed to identify young talent from here in the age group around 13 and take at least one of the best to play in the EPL in five years time and that’s our dream, now,” added Mather, who is a chief economic advisor to the chief minister.
Kerala Football Association president K.M.I. Mather said that the club started with a one-room office near St. Albert’s College here. It was soon frequented by then student Congress leaders like Antony, Ravi A.C.Jose (former Congress Lok Sabha member) and Chandy.
“Antony was a badminton player, while Ravi was a complete sports enthusiast and from 1961 onwards all these now famous Congress leaders took upon themselves the responsibility of turning organisers of the club. And in 1965, we staged the Nehru Trophy Football Tournament, which went on for a few years and then it stopped,” said Mather, who is also Shaffi’s father.