Chelsea FC, a football powerhouse, virtually toured Alappuzha, Kerala’s backwater paradise, on Tuesday and admired its beauty. In response, the state’s Tourism Minister, P A Mohamed Riyas, invited the Blues for a physical tour of Kerala, which is known as “God’s Own Country,” and where the game is loved “as much as life.”
“The beauty of Kerala! The Blues visit the scenic backwater of Alleppey as part of the virtual tour,” ran the legend of a virtual image posted by Chelsea FC on Instagram showing two of its players Reece James and Enzo Fernandez standing on the bow of a houseboat in Alappuzha with another player, Kai Havertz, looking on to his team mates.
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“Don’t just make it a virtual tour. Make it real. A hearty welcome to Gods Own Country, where football is loved as much as life. Enjoy Alleppey, Venice of the East,” Riyas said on Instagram, extending an invitation to the Premier League Club.
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Later, he said it was great to see that one of world’s most-followed football clubs was making a virtual tour of Kerala and acknowledging its unparalleled beauty, a release issued by Kerala Tourism said here on Wednesday.
Kerala Tourism will host the visitors as its most valued guests and take them around the state which has many joys in store including die-hard football fans.
Just as it’s known for its scenic charm, Kerala is also known for its deep interest in football. Chelsea commands a good fan following in the state, where football is the most watched and played sport, blurring social and rural-urban divides, the minister said.
Chelsea’s praise of Kerala as a place of remarkable beauty would further strengthen the states global connect, especially with the football-lovers from all continents. The UK is already a big market for Kerala Tourism, Riyas added.
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The Instagram image, which went viral, also elicited a lot of appreciative comments with fans urging the Blues, as the Chelsea Football Club is also known, to make a real tour of the state.
Interestingly, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, accompanied by his then wife Lalla, had joined the world premiere of a three-minute film on Kerala, Your Moment is waiting, at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea in September 2010. “Kerala is a dream place,” said Drogba then, after the screening.
Former England striker and Golden Boot winner Gary Linekar, who also watched the film at the time, had said, “Kerala is a place you want to go.”
(With agency inputs)