Indian domestic league football will return to 'God's own country' Kerala, after a hiatus of six years as Gokulam Kerala FC will represent the state in the I-League 2017-18 edition, scheduled to get under way on November 25.
Shillong Lajong will play hosts to the Kerala outfit in the second match of the tournament on November 27.
Coach Bino George believes that the inception of Gokulam Kerala FC will spike football progress in the state while the I-League will provide a platform for the players to showcase their talent.
"After 2011 (Chirag United/Viva Kerala), a team from Kerala will participate in the domestic league and there is already enthusiasm amongst the fans of the club to see their team play against some of the best teams in the nation," said George.
Stress on good performances to grab eyeballs
"Kerala players are also excited because now they have a pathway to play in the domestic league and catch the eyes of scouts.
"The most important thing is the grassroots and with the establishment of the club, there is a clear way for a child at the grassroots level to graduate to the youth teams and the senior team eventually. The work on the grassroots is as important as the work at the senior level of the club," he added.
The new entrants might however be meeting with hostilities by some of India's biggest club teams on the pitch.
"We understand that it will be a challenging for us, but we are here to take that challenge head-on and prove a point," continued George.
"In fact, we are very eager to perform in the Hero I-League and so are our fans", he added.
Fans will be the 12th man
Kerala isn't unknown when it comes to football celebrations and George believes that the club's fans will act as the 12th man for the team.
"Kerala has passionate fans who will go the distance for football. Everyone in the state is excited about the I-League to kick-off and I won't be surprised if the stadiums are filled to the brim. We expect our fans to come in numbers and support us and we in-turn will reward them with our performances", George stated.