The Friday Football Club (FFC) arena in Kazhakootam is the first ever artificial football turf in Thiruvananthapuram.

Under the floodlights Football fans in Tpuram get a new space for some kicks
news Football Saturday, November 24, 2018 - 15:23

It was 6:30 pm on a Friday evening. It was time for most of the “techie” crowd from the IT parks spread across the Kazhakootam area in Thiruvananthapuram to leave their offices and return home. But a few of them headed towards Chanthavila area, not far from their offices.

Nestled amidst the coconut trees and the calmness of Chanthavila, far away from the town, is a mini football turf. The techies, who a while ago were seen in formal shirts, pants and ties, have changed to their football gears and have started warming up.  

The floodlights have been switched on and instead of the usual 11 players per team on the ground - here there were 5 from each team - getting ready for the second match of  “Futsal 2018,” a football tournament for the techies, organised by the Friday Football Club (FFC).

The FFC arena in Kazhakootam, founded by two techies – Balagopal Sadasivan and Jinu Babu, is the first ever artificial football turf in Thiruvananthapuram. Balagopal is a busy man as he shuttles between his job as an assistant director in Ernst and Young and taking care of the newly constructed football arena. Jinu, who works as a digital lead for Tata Consultancy Services, manages the operations of the arena from Kochi.

“The idea behind creating this turf is basically to provide a space for people to come and play anytime they want,” Balagopal tells TNM.

The concept of artificial turfs is popular in all the major cities across the country where there is a lack of open spaces where one can play the sport. Just like most other places, FFC arena is also a fives football court (five members in a team) equipped with a floodlight facility.

“The court will be open from 6 am to 11 pm and you can prebook the court, according to your preferred timings, using the ‘Playo’ app by paying an advance amount. The fee structure is Rs 1,200 if played without floodlights and Rs 1,500 if played under floodlights. This is for a duration of one hour,” says Balagopal.

One of the advantages of the arena is that weather conditions are not much of a concern. Accompanied by an efficient drainage system, rainwater can be disposed of quickly without causing much disruption to the game.

Speaking about the reason behind the name, “Friday Football Club,” Balagopal fondly recalls the days he used to work in Bengaluru back in 2011.

“A few of us friends used to get together to play football every Friday evening because that was the only time all of us could get. That was how we formed a group called the Friday Football Club and from then on, it just grew into a huge community,” he said.

But the decision to start the FFC arena in Thiruvananthapuram came up during a discussion with his childhood friend, Jinu. “We were just chatting one day and during the conversation, we thought of replicating the artificial turf concept in TVM as well. We have no business motive in doing so. It is purely for the love of the game and also to give other techies like us, a space to come out and play,” added Balagopal.

Talking about how he plans to go ahead with the project, Balagopal tells TNM that they also plan on setting up an academy for children at the arena. “ We have plans of tying up with the Bhaichung Bhutia kids training academy and start the academy by January,” says Balagopal. He also added that an additional turf will be constructed adjacent to the existing court.

The first major event in the arena is ‘Futsal 2018’, a football tournament for the techies which began on Thursday. The FFC arena was inaugurated on the same day by the Thiruvananthapuram mayor, VK Prasanth.

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.