Prodigies: Celebrated today, forgotten tomorrow?

KOCHI: In the last seven months or so, at least three videos with Kerala pre-teen children making a football A trick or two that would have made even a top professional proud, took the Internet by storm.

Last July, 12 years. Mahroof from Parappa in the Kasaragod district he rose to fame after a video showed him bouncing big boys in muddy terrain. Last month, four standard fourth-grade students LPG School Poolappadam, in the Malappuram district, became a sensation overnight through his choreographed free kick routine. More recently, 10 years. Dani PK since Kozhikode District , who curled in a goal (zero-degree) directly since a corner at a local tournament, became the darling of the internet.

What connects these young stars is their unmistakable talent in the beautiful game and, deservedly, they have become Internet sensations. But going viral is the same as going to places? And what happens when the dust settles?

“Incredibly, so many people have cheered for the kids, but with all due respect they deserve something else,” said Sreeju A Chozhi, the physical education teacher of Aslah, Lukmanul Hakeem, Pratyush and Adhil, the kids since Malappuram whose ‘freekick video’ had over 60 lakh views in Instagram alone.

“These children have raw talent, but need regular training to improve. Unfortunately, we have not received any of those offers, added Sreeju, a hired teacher, whose weekly assignments are divided between two other schools in the region.

Embed1-2402Embed1-2402 As for Mahroof, the dribbling sensation, who was instantly dubbed ‘the little Messi of Kasaragod’, the need of the hour seems to be a mentor more than anything else. Mahroof went for a training stint with the Bengaluru FC academy and was reportedly offered a chance in Bellary, but he became homesick and returned.

Of course, the kids continue basking in the limelight for now. Apart since ‘emojis’ of appreciation since German great Lothar Matthaus and Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, the four Malappuram boys have had frequent tete-a-tetes with celebrities the last few weeks -- the most recent was a week ago when they met members of Bengaluru FC who were in Kochi for an Indian Super League match.

Mahroof is now home in Kasaragod, finishing his seventh standard education at GHSS, Adoor. He has been invited by a residential academy in Kochi that has also offered to facilitate free schooling. Mahroof’s parents Mohammad and Misriya are interested, but the boy is reluctant to leave. “As parents, we can only tell our kids what is better for them, right” asked Mohammad, who is an auto driver.

With a couple of examples in front of them, Dani’s parents are determined to ensure that their ward outgrows the tag of a ‘corner-kick wizard’. His father Abu Hashim, a photojournalist, has shortlisted an academy in Mumbai and another in Jamshedpur that he feels will help Dani develop as a football er.