Football Fever : A Tete A Tete With C K Vineeth!

The sports icon who has taken Kerala by storm talks of his passion for the game!

For ages every other open ground in Kerala transformed into a football field for children and youth alike. The passion for the game only grew stronger with the launch of the Kerala Blasters. Kannur born C K Vineeth has made the state proud by securing a place among the top goal getters in the country! His fans wait to catch a glimpse of him and when they do, they go wild! His tremendous fan following won him the title of ‘Fan’s player of the year 2017’. He also recently won the ‘Youth Icon’ award from the Kerala state youth commission. During his stay at the Kochi Marriott hotel, RITZ catches up with the young sports icon!

Text: Riya Sonny Datson

Photography and Styling : Richard Antony

Makeup : Noushadh ​V​ava

Costume ​C​ourtesy :  ​S​tett Banglor & ​L​ulu ​F​ashion

Location courtesy : ​D​ecathlon Vytilla​,​ ​M​arriot kochi , ​L​ulu ​F​ashion ​S​tore , ​E​rnakulam ​M​arket

While pursuing his studies at the Navodaya boarding school, Vineeth recalls how he used to eagerly wait for the clock to strike four as that was the only time of the day when students were permitted to play. Since they were restrictions on playing cricket during weekdays, they almost always played football and that’s how his love for the game kicked off. His teachers noticed his growing passion for football and when he completed his tenth board exams, they suggested that he join the Kasargod Navodaya school, which had the SAI Coaching camp. “And the rest is history,” he smiles. “My father was a teacher and mother, a housewife. They never ever stopped me from playing football. Instead they provided all the support and encouragement. I am not even aware of what their dreams were for me,” he says fondly. “The time when I am most happy in my life is when I play football and when I am with my parents,” he grins.

Celebrity Tag

“I have never felt like a celebrity. In fact, I try to stay away from public events because I don’t want to be judged as a celebrity. I still continue to do all that I used to do earlier. The only change I have felt would be the selfies, photoshoots and the interviews that I am obliged to do now. Otherwise, it hasn’t really affected me,” he admits. A memorable moment with a fan? Vineeth recalls meeting a young fan from Kollam during his stay at the Kochi Marriott. “The moment he saw me, he bent down and touched my feet!” I was shocked and moved beyond words.

Passion for the Game

“I can’t explain it in words. Every pass, every moment of the game is important to me. The happiness and satisfaction that I get out of playing the game is what drives me. Likewise, every game is special to me, be it the ones I played while in school or the ones which I play now. It’s not about winning or losing a game, I always try to focus on new learnings and on how to improve my performance,” he says. When asked about the one game he wants to forget, he quickly replies, “My first I league match at Kannur where I was substituted in just 15 minutes! That’s the game I want to forget, I hardly played the game – so they couldn’t have really judged me on performance…I am still unaware of the reason why that was done.” The most memorable game? “The first match that I played for the Indian team in Kochi will always be my most special,” he smiles proudly.

“The time when I am most happy in my life is when I play football and when I am with my parents”

Bangalore FC Vs Kerala Blasters

After a very successful stint with Bangalore FC, Vineeth joined the Kerala Blasters team. “It’s very natural for any player to get attached to Bangalore FC.  The management treats each of the players in a very professional way, giving them utmost support and encouragement to reach the top. The fans are also highly organised, even though the numbers might be relatively lower. So it was heart breaking for us to make the choice. But at the end of the day, Kerala is our homeland and we feel proud to play for our state. Our fans are also highly supportive and are known world over for their passion for football. ” The Blasters have recorded the highest average of over 55,000 fans at each game.

When asked about his interactions with Sachin Tendulkar, the major stakeholder of the club, Vineeth says, “He is very down to earth. I remember during our last meeting, he spent one and half hours interacting with us and asking us suggestions on how to improve our team. It was a ‘pinch me’ moment for me.”

Government support

Although time and again, Vineeth has proven his track record by winning laurels, he was recently expelled from the AGS office. The state government immediately came to his rescue by offering him a post in the state government services.  Has the controversy affected him? “It would be wrong to say it didn’t. Every player needs job security especially after retiring from his football career. I took up the job because my family wanted me to have a secure future. I have never demanded a job, I have only applied for jobs under the Sports quota that I felt I deserved. Even when I joined office, my only request was that they would let me play football, which they did initially. I followed all the rules – every 90 days, I went to office to mark my attendance and for the last three years, I have played inter departmental tournaments as well. My passion is football and my dream is to play for my country but that was not happening as they were playing only in local leagues. So I had to sign up with other clubs to pursue my career goals. When I heard that I was expelled, I was upset but winning the Federation Cup brought back my confidence. The Kerala Government has come forward to support me and I am really happy at the turn of events. My priority now is to focus on my career.” With the rising football frenzy, what’s on his wish list? ”I think it’s only a matter of time before India plays at the World Cup. My dream is to be a part of the national team till I retire!”

“It’s not about winning or losing a game, I always try to focus on new learnings and on how to improve my performance”

Outside the Football Field

“The last two years were hectic and am enjoying a break right now. Training schedules are still in place, we practise and have work out sessions in the morning and evening. But this is what I enjoy the most, so it’s never really a pressure or a challenge.” When asked if he is health conscious, he says, “Not at all! I eat whatever I like and don’t follow any strict diets. Of course, I am conscious of my weight and if I feel I need to shed a few kilos, I work out accordingly. Thankfully, I am blessed with good genes so I don’t put on weight quickly.”

Message to young football aspirants? “I have always had opportunities coming my way. Be it coaching, clubs or the ISL. I never planned anything. I think if we work hard and set our heart on our passion, things will come your way. Keep an eye for opportunities and chase your dreams!” says Vineeth as he signs off.

Rapid Fire:

  • My hero: My Father
  • Icon: Steven Gerrard
  • Interests: Photography, Exploring the Wild
  • Ideal Holiday: Home
  • Favourite Food: Mom’s food
  • Am a fan of: Superstar Mammootty
  • I love: Football
  • I hate: Losing my temper
  • Brand I admire: Adidas
  • I can’t do without: Football