NRI 'Toilet Titan' from Kerala to revive golden era of Malabar football

Dr Siddiq Ahmed plans to revive Sait Nagji football trophy tournament. (Supplied)

A major initiative is taken to revive the golden era of Malabar football by a Non Resident Indian (NRI) football enthusiast and businessman by reviving a popular football tournament in Kerala.

Among the various initiatives being taken by Dr Siddiq Ahmed, Chairman and Managing Director of ERAM Group and ITL World, active in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, is to resume the annual football tournament after a gap of twenty years and make sure that at least one member of an average Keralite family starts kicking football, instead of always playing on the expensive tablets or video games or even cricket.

Calicut attracted players from different parts of India and abroad for the Sait Nagji football trophy which started in 1952 and was last held in 1995. 

Dr Siddiq is taking the football initiative after successfully starting more than 1200 e-toilets across 18 Indian states.

“The Sait Nagjee Trophy Football Tournament was started in 1952 in Calicut, Kerala and continued till 1995. Due to various reasons including the predominance gained by cricket, lack of support from the government and the escalation of real estate costs made football less popular, but now the tournament will be restarted from next year. My dream is to regain the golden period in Indian football starting from Malabar,” Dr Siddiq Ahmed, a native of Kozhikkodu, Kerala, who was a football player himself in his youth.

“We are trying to unite all the expatriate associations from the Malabar region to revive the football culture of the region, which is still maintained by local level football associations and tournaments here and back home.  Now massive efforts are on to attract a new international football player as the brand ambassador for Malabar football, start a football academy in different districts and to start a regular monthly inter-district football competition," Dr Siddiqi said.

A new football academy will be set up in Kozhikkody in association with the Madrid Club and train professional footballers from Kerala.

“We spoke to the football and sports officials in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to ensure that GCC teams are playing in tournaments. Sachin Tendulkar and many other celebrities from the film and business community are supporting football now. A new football culture will be developed to ensure that our children are not falling sick due to physical inactivity,” Dr Siddiq said.
The Sait Naagji cup football tournament will be held in Kozhikkodu from January 22 with the participation of eight international teams from Germany, Argentina, Spain (two teams each), and one team each from Brazil and India.