Soccer

11 of the best turfs to play football in Kerala

© Focus Sports
Mohammad Rafik, Kerala Blasters’ director of football, and Sporthood co-founders Arun Nair and Rahul Thomas, list Kerala’s best football turfs.
Written by Deepti PatwardhanPublished on
Kerala Blasters FC has helped bring the state’s love for football to the forefront.
As one of the top football teams in the country, it has helped unearth talent within the state and create a platform for budding professionals to make a name for themselves.
In the past, the muddy fields of Kerala have given rise to Indian football stars like IM Vijayan and Jo Paul Ancheri, and more recently Anas Edathodika and CK Vineeth. But in the last couple of years, artificial turfs have proved to be a game-changer.
Football-hungry Kerala now has about 400 turfs, most of which have cropped up in the last 18 months. And Kerala Blasters has used these turfs as the base for their grassroots programme.
“You need good infrastructure to put things in order. It brings people to the game,” says Mohammad Rafik, director of football of Kerala Blasters.
“The objective of the programme is to introduce the game to the kids. Turfs play a major role, as they can play in an organized way. They are not overburdened in terms of the number of players on the field.”
Kerala Blasters have partnered with Sporthood for their grassroots programme, which will focus on developing grassroots football all over Kerala for kids aged 5-15 years. They also handle school activities and community outreach programmes.
Football players compete for the ball during a match at Sporthood Espirito, Kochi, Kerala.
Action at Sporthood Espirito
“Kerala Blasters will focus on the top-level competitive teams in every age category (under-13, under-15, under-17) and the they will be based in Kochi,” says Arun Nair, the co-founder of Sporthood. “The rest of the grassroots network will be known as the Young Blasters-Sporthood Academy and will leverage the Sporthood network of sports centres. The pipeline for competitive teams come from this grassroots network which will be present all over Kerala. All the school activities in the state will also be done through Sporthood as part of the same grassroots network.”
According to Sporthood co-founder and CEO Rahul Thomas, turfs play an important role in bringing kids into the system at a young age.
“For young kids, who are just getting introduced to the sport, even if they trip and fall [on turf] nothing happens,” says Thomas. “The surface is soft because of the rubber granules on top. So the fear of falling never gets into their head. So the kids that come through these programmes, they don’t mind sliding in, they don’t mind hard tackles.”
He says the turfs have also helped make space for sport lovers in the state, age no bar.
“Over the last 20 years, the Indian urban landscape has seen massive loss of social spaces,” says Thomas.
“Malls came in and plugged the gap in some places, then there are bars, restaurants at some other places. But there was still need for spaces for sport lovers. Football turfs are one manifestation of it.
“Here, 5-15 year olds come mainly for coaching. 20-year-olds want to play with their friends. In 30+ age category we now see a growth in sport-based fitness programmes. The idea is rather than being clustered in a gym indoors, you are using sport as a means to get fit.”
With inputs from Kerala Blasters and Sporthood, here’s a list of the best football turfs in Kerala. (kids academy services across all centres are currently paused because of the pandemic)

1. Sparta Arena

  • Location: Oruvathilkotta, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Timings: 6am to midnight
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, adults training, leagues, kids academy
Sparta Arena hosts a lot of semi-professional games. It also has cricket and beach volleyball facilities in the complex.

2. Sporthood Turfpark

  • Location: Edappally, Kochi
  • Timings: 6am to midnight
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, adults training, leagues, kids academy
Sporthood Turfpark can simultaneously host 7-a-side and 5-a-side games. It is close to the biggest shopping mall in Kerala and has great access from the city’s arterial roads.

3. Gamma Football

  • Location: Chilavannoor, Ernakulam
  • Timings: 6am to 2am (next day)
  • Services: Court booking, community leagues, women's football programme
Gamma Football has a FIFA-approved 3G artificial turf that’s designed to soften impact on the joints and decrease the likelihood of injury. They have a women's football programme called Gamma Girls.

4. Parkway

  • Location: Kalamassery, Kochi
  • Timings: 5am to midnight
  • Services: Court booking, kids academy
Located in the heart of Kochi, Parkway is a multi-sport centre and a popular gathering place for sports enthusiasts in the city.

5. MTM Sports

  • Location: Ponnani, Malappuram
  • Timings: 5am to midnight
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, adults training, leagues, kids academy
Located at the heart of Ponnani, a place of historical importance, MTM Sports Village is Malabar’s first multi-sport arena. It was designed to be a community centre and has a wide range of sports: football, cricket, tennis, swimming, roller skating, basketball, badminton, volleyball, table tennis and beach volleyball.

6. Lake Zone

  • Location: Kolathara, Kozhikode
  • Timings: 5am to midnight
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, leagues, kids academy
Lake Zone is a very good facility in Kolathara. The 5-a-side football turf is by the river. The place is well-known for water sports and boat rides.

7. Just Futsal

  • Location: Shobha City Mall, Thrissur
  • Timings: Open 24 hours a day
  • Services: Court booking, leagues
Just Futsal is a stunning turf overlooking Thrissur City. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art FIFA-standard synthetic turf and excellent lighting.

8. Goal Castle

  • Location: Vazhakkad, Kozhikode
  • Timings: Open 24 hours a day
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, leagues
Vazhakkad and its neighbouring areas have produced many state and national players -- U Sharafali (former Indian player), Ijaz Ali (Indian Junior Team), Hanan Javed (Indian Junior Team), Shakkeer Manuppa (former Kerala Blasters), Shabaz Saleel (India U-21). Goal Castle is one of the first artificial turfs in Malabar region. Good for 5-a-side matches.

9. Sporthood Espirito

The two turf grounds of Sporthood Espirito in Kakkanad, Kochi, Kerala.
Sporthood Espirito
  • Location: Kakkanad, Kochi
  • Timings: 6am to midnight
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, adults training, leagues, kids academy
Sporthood Espirito was the first turf in Kakkanad area. It is easily accessible from Infopark, an IT park complex in Kochi.

10. Cochin Sports Arena

  • Location: Edappally, Kochi
  • Timings: 6am to midnight
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, adults training, leagues, kids academy
Cochin Sports Arena is the biggest 7-a-side ground in the locality and easily accessible from main areas like Kakkanad, Palarivattom and Edapally

11. Calicut Arena

  • Location: Moozhikkal, Kozhikode
  • Timings: Open 24 hours a day
  • Services: Court booking, adults playing community, leagues, kids academy
Calicut Arena is one of the best and biggest turfs in the city of Calicut. The arena has two independent courts; one for 7-a-side and one for 5-a-side.