In Pozhiyoor, a fishing village near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in the district, football is ingrained in the cultural fabric of society. It was once used as a vehicle for social transformation by the Church when drugs and illicit liquor threatened to ruin the youth. Football offered better prospects for self advancement and many players from this tiny village have found their way into the top teams in the country.
In the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc and football took a back seat. However, a sense of normalcy has now returned to the village with the restrictions imposed following the second wave of the pandemic were eased by the State government.
For football fans of Pozhiyoor, the Copa America and Euro 2020 could not have started at a better time. Large cut-outs of Neyemar, Messi and Suarez have taken vantage positions around the village. Euro 2020 is just a passing interest for most of the football fans who are diehard fans of Brazil and Argentina.
A group of Argentinian football fans have taken their love for superstar Lionel Messi to another level. The Messi fans of Pozhiyoor has erected a life-size statue of the Argentinian player at Pozhiyoor Junction.
The 169-cm statue made of clay and resin was built within a week by sculptor Jibin Kumar who is a top Messi fan. “We had planned this some months ago. But it was delayed for various reasons. I suggested the idea again when the Copa America began and everyone backed me. It is our tribute to Messi and I think it is the first life-size statue of Messi in Kerala,” said Jibin.
By local stars
The statue was unveiled on June 24, which happened to be Messi’s birthday, by two of Pozhiyoor’s best-known footballers S. Rajesh and PM Britto. “It is a great honor for me to unveil the statue of my hero. I am living a dream,” said former Gokulam FC player Rajesh.