Maroon and white are an unlikely paint combination for a house in Kerala during the FIFA World Cup. Yet, a house in this South Indian state stands out in the national colours of Qatar.
On its façade is a big poster of His Highness the Amir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; and for company, there is Hassan Al Haydos, the captain of the Qatar national football team, as well as La'eeb — the official mascot of Qatar 2022.
The single-storied house is in a picturesque Kerala village called Enamakkal, located on the shores of a fresh water lake of the same name, in the district of Thrissur. The paint job is just one of the physical manifestations of a curious mix of football passion and Qatari loyalty that run deep in this village.
According to villagers, at least one adult from practically every household — or 600 out of the total population of around 2,000 — is working in Qatar. And, much like in every Kerala village, football runs in the veins of the people here. That means, this World Cup is doubly special for them.
In fact, maroon and white are ubiquitous throughout the hamlet — they can be seen on flags, boats, t-shirts, and even on scarves women wear around their necks.
The grand inauguration of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday also marked a formal opening of the World Cup celebrations in Enamakkal. It was inaugurated by Kerala’s Minister for Revenue and Housing K Rajan, who represents a fellow constituency in the district of Thrissur.
A procession after the inauguration drew a large number of people. As part of the celebrations, the village committee has put up a huge screen for people to watch the World Cup matches live.
Rasheed Khalid, the head of a residents’ association in the village, told Qatar Tribune that the village’s links with Qatar go back more than three generations.
“The younger generations probably know more about Qatar than our village because many of them were born and raised in Qatar. So, it’s only natural that we feel a strong connection to the World Cup being held here, and we want our family members back home to be part of the celebrations,” he said in Doha, explaining the reason behind the World Cup celebration in Enamakkal.
“We have made wide arrangements back in the village for people to watch and enjoy the World Cup.”