Kerala regains sporting edge, via Manipur

Sport in Kerala seems to be driving on borrowed sinews these days.

Known for producing world-class athletes, the state, of late, had become a shadow of its glorious past. But then, schools in the state found a new hope in destitute boys from North-East who were ferried to Kerala orphanages, especially to those in Malabar.

Sourced from poor families in Manipur by agents and institutions, they are delivered to orphanages run by community trusts. These organisations admit the boys in local schools where they are trained in sports along with native students.

One such Manipuri orphan is footballer Sajid Khan. He was part of the Kerala team that recently won the Subroto Cup. An inmate of Sullamussalam Orphanage in Areekode in Malappuram district, he along with another Manipuri orphan, Wahid Rahman, were handpicked by the Malappuram Special Police Higher Secondary School.

Over the years, the schools in the state found that if trained, the boys from the North-East, with their robust physique and stamina, can do wonders in the sporting arena. Chesam Sallemudheen, a Manipuri orphan and an inmate of Calicut Orphanage, went on to win gold in 100m and 200m race in the sub-junior level in the last edition of state school athletics. Impressed by his performance, a school in central Kerala, Mar Baselious Higher Secondary School, Kothamangalam, adopted him in its athletics team along with another Manipuri boy, Muhammed Shahinoor.

"Their physique is suitable for sprint events. Saleemudheen and Shahinoor are being trained free of cost,'' said Baselious school coach Raju Paul.

The number of destitute Manipuri boys being brought to the state can be gauged from the fact that the Calicut Orphanage has 97 inmates of which 92 are from Manipur. Eight of them have won various events at the district level.

Elsewhere, in Sulthan Bathery, Wayanad district, four Manipuri inmates of MCF Orphanage are getting trained to participate in the state-level sports meet in Thiruvananthapuram this week. Its inmate Muhammed Jahid Khan was the district-level sub-junior champion this year.

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