Kannur: When the political leaders from warring parties came together to play as a team four years ago, it was not expected to go beyond the initial hype. However, the one-day tournaments started by Kannur Sporting Club has now been adopted even by the police as an effective way of defusing tensions. The police organise matches in violence-hit areas to effectively bring down the clashes. “At least, we are able to bring them together for peace talks,” is how a police source put it.
On January 19, they would again play together under the tagline – 'Prosperity through Harmony' at 3.30pm at Collectorate Maidan, Kannur. The team of politicians and mediapersons would be led by Ports Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally; CPI(M) MLA T V Rajesh will be the vice captain. Kannur range IG Balram Kumar Upadhyay would lead the team of officers and traders; district collector Mir Mohammed Ali would be its vice captain. Former MP Pannyan Raveendran, an ardent football fan, would be the commentator in the fifth edition of the event.
Here is the explosive mix of players who will line up behind Ramachandran Kadannappally and T V Rajesh: Kannur district panchayat president KV Sumesh, DCC president Satheesan Pacheni, Yuva Morcha state vice president Biju Elakkuzhi, DYFI central committee member Biju Kandakayi, block panchayat member KV Shakeel, Youth Congress president Rijil Makkutti, KSU state vice president VP Abdul Rasheed, and Yuva Morcha state secretary Arun K P. Officers and traders' team, which would be the less exciting team given that their members do not fight each other on a daily basis, will have district police chief G Siva Vikram, sub collector K Asif, assistant collector Arjun Pandian, ADM Mohammed Yoosaf, RTO M Manoharan and corporation secretary P Radhakrishnan.
The sporting event also busts a long-standing Kannur myth. "Politicians working for various parties coming together for such friendly matches is the finest example of the friendship that exists among political leaders irrespective of their public posturing. If they are real enemies, they can not play a match together,” said P K Sreemathy MP, who had been part of all the previous tournaments held here. The police have been holding similar matches in the politically volatile areas for more than a year now. Local volleyball tournaments are being conducted in many parts of the district by the police team. They believe that even if the matches do not reduce the violence immediately, at least they give room for peaceful discussion between the local leaders.
“This is a unique match in Kerala, to strengthen the friendship among various political parties. All the parties take part actively in the tournament. To a great extent, such tournaments help reduce the tension created by clashes in a politically-volatile district. Once, one party planned to conduct an agitation against Kadannappally sir (Ramachandran Kadannappally). They had just played a match together a day before. The protesters themselves felt it was embarrassing to protest against someone with whom they played together just a day ago and so dropped it. There lies the success of such events,” said club president P Shahin.
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