Sports in Kerala

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A kalaripayattu practitioner.

Several ancient ritualised arts are Keralite in origin. These include kalaripayattukalari ("place", "threshing floor", or "battlefield") and payattu ("exercise" or "practice"). Among the world's oldest martial arts, oral tradition attributes kalaripayattu's emergence to Parasurama. Other ritual arts include theyyam and poorakkali.

Association football is the most popular sport in Kerala, followed by cricket. The Kerala Blasters are Kerala's most popular sports club. However, larger numbers of Keralites follow sports such as Soccer, Kabaddi, Hockey, Cricket, and badminton. There are many large stadiums in Kerala across different cities.Trivandrum city contain Trivandrum International Stadium,[1] Jimmy George Indoor Stadium, University Stadium (Thiruvananthapuram) and Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium where as Kochi city consist of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Kochi)[2] and Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium[3].[4] An international astro turf hockey stadium is located at Kollam city.[5] Other major stadiums are EMS Stadium in Kozhikode,[6] Kannur Indoor Stadium in Kannur, Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Kollam[7] and many more.[8] All these stadiums attest to the mass appeal of such sports among Keralites.


Football is one of the popular sports in the state. The first Indian professional football club FC Kochin was from Kerala. The northern parts of Kerala (Malabar region), especially Kannur,Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, are famous for being notoriously football-crazy regions. Kannur, Malappuram, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Ernakulam and Trivandrum have produced many Indian International footballers such as I. M. Vijayan, V. P. Sathyan , C. V. Pappachan and C. A. Liston. A Seven-a-side version of football is hugely popular in Malappuram ,Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur. These "Seven's football" tournaments attract many fans and international players for the sheer joy and excitement of fast paced football.

Most of the professional football clubs in India have many Kerala footballers including Indian internationals N.P Pradeep, Krishnan Nair Ajayan, C.K. Vineeth, Mohammed Rafi, Denson Devadas and Sushanth Mathew.

Indian Super League[edit]

Football became popular in Kerala decades ago. Kochi has a franchise team called Kerala Blasters, which is owned by the cricket legend, Sachin Tendulkar and an Indian business man, Prasad V Potluri. Blasters made into the final after some great performances by their team. Iain Hume, who scored 5 goals and captained them in the knockout matches, played a great role for Kerala, which made them into the final. Marquee player David James and Sandip Nandy also played a great role by guarding the goalpost as goalkeepers.


Kerala Evergreen FC is the first team from Thiruvananthapuram to play in the I-League and will be part of the 2017–18 I-League.The team is owned by a Singapore based company MySports Management and India based company Liwing Sports.The team's home stadium is Trivandrum International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.


Hockey is the pride game of city of Kollam and Kollam district. There are a lot number of Kollam city based players in Indian hockey team as well as Kerala hockey team.

Kollam city & district are very famous for its players and the passion for the game. So to support the city's passion towards hockey, Government of Kerala have built a most modern state of the type astro turf hockey stadium within the city, which is first of its kind in the state. International Hockey Stadium in Kollam is having a total seating capacity of 5,000[9] built at a cost of Rs.17.55 Crores(US$2.84 Million)[10] The stadium is now the home-ground of Kerala Hockey Team. Comparing to other sports, hockey is not much popular among Kerala. But the legend, Indian Hockey Team Captain Patmasree P R Sreejesh is from Kerala. He resides at Kizhakkambalam village near Kakkanad.


Kerala has a rich history of producing world class athletes. Athletes like T. C. Yohannan, Suresh Babu, P.T.Usha, Shiny Wilson, K. M. Beenamol, Tintu Lukka, Anju Bobby George, Preeja Sreedharan, Renjith Maheshwary are amongst the best Kerala has produced.


Volleyball, another popular sport, is often played on makeshift courts on sandy beaches along the coast. Jimmy George, born in Peravoor, Kannur, was arguably the most successful volleyball player ever to represent India. At his prime he was regarded as among the world's ten best players.[11]


Shanthakumaran Sreesanth

Cricket, the most followed sport in South Asia, only became popular in Kerala state in recent decades. Earlier cricket was continually played only in select places like Thalassery, Cannanore, Fort Kochi, Ernakulam and Tripunithura. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (right-arm fast-medium, played 26 tests and 53 ODIs for India) is often regarded as the most successful cricketer from Kerala. Tinu Yohannan, son of Olympic long jumper T. C. Yohannan, also represented India, 3 times in tests and ODIs and Sanju Samson, a future Indian batsman, who already joined Indian team. K. N. Ananthapadmanabhan (344 first class wickets) is also a famous domestic cricket from Kerala, who took 344 wickets in first class cricket. Kochi Tuskers, a short lived former Indian Premier League team, represented Kochi, Kerala. Sports Hub Trivandrum and Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium (Kaloor International Stadium) are the two international cricket stadiums in Kerala. Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium is the third largest stadium in India, having a capacity of 60,000 spectators.

Nadan Panthu Kali (Native Football)[edit]

Nadan Panthu Kali popular sports played in villages of Kottayam district and Muvattupuzha Taluk. Villages like Manaracd, Puthuppally, Thottakkadu, Thirvanchoor, Meendam, Manganam, Kurichy, Valakom etc. are the places where this game is played. The popularity of game is dying as there is not much money and younger generation are more interested in cricket.

This game is played using small ball made of leather and filled with cotton or coconut fibre. Each team consist of 5 or 7 players each. The game is played for 5 Innings (vara). Each inning, both the teams are allowed to do "vettu" where they initiate the scoring and other team prevents from the scoring. Scoring points follow the sequence like otta, petta, pidiyan, thalm, Keezhu, Indan and then it repeats. the team which score the most points from the innings wins.

Annual Tournaments are conducted at these villages every year and have huge local support.

List of Stadiums in Kerala[edit]

The following is a list of major stadiums in Kerala in the order of their capacity.

No Stadium Capacity City District Main Use
1 Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium 60,000 Kochi Ernakulam Cricket, Football[12]
2 EMS Stadium 50,000 Kozhikode Kozhikode Football
3 Sports Hub Trivandrum 50,000 Trivandrum Trivandrum Cricket, Football
4 Jawahar Municipal Stadium 30,000 Kannur Kannur Football
5 Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium (Kollam) 30,000 Kollam Kollam Football
6 Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium 25,000 Trivandrum Trivandrum Football
7 Malappuram District Sports Complex Stadium 25,000 Manjeri Malappuram Football
8 University Stadium 20,000 Trivandrum Trivandrum Football
9 Maharaja's College Stadium 15,000 Kochi Ernakulam Multi-purpose[13]
10 Thrissur Municipal Corporation Stadium 15,000 Thrissur Thrissur Football
11 Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium 10,000 Kochi Ernakulam Multi-purpose
12 Thrissur Aquatic Complex 10,000 Thrissur Thrissur Swimming
13 Jimmy George Indoor Stadium 2,000 Trivandrum Trivandrum Indoor
14 International Hockey Stadium 5,000 Kollam Kollam Hockey[14]


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