A virtual image posted by Chelsea on Instagram shows its players Reece James and Enzo Fernandez standing on the bow of a houseboat in Alappuzha with Kai Havertz looking on at his teammates.
As English football club Chelsea took a virtual tour of the state’s backwater paradise Alappuzha on Tuesday, state Tourism Minister PA Mohammad Riyas invited the Blues for a ‘real’ tour of God’s Own Country.
“The beauty of Kerala! Blues visit the scenic backwaters of Alleppey as part of a virtual tour,’ ran the caption of a virtual image posted by Chelsea on Instagram, which showed its players Reece James and Enzo Fernandez sitting on moss on the bow of a houseboat in Alappuzha. Shown standing with Havertz. on his comrades.
“Don’t just make it a virtual tour. Make it real. A hearty welcome to God’s Own Country, where football is loved more than life itself. Enjoy Alleppey, the Venice of the East,” Mr Rias Invites Premier League Clubs Giving said on Instagram.
Later, the Minister said that it is great to see that one of the most followed football clubs in the world is taking a virtual tour of Kerala and acknowledging its unique beauty. Kerala Tourism will host the visitors as their valued guests and take them around the state, much to the delight of many including die-hard football fans. Along with his natural charm, Kerala was also known for his keen interest in football. The minister said there is a good number of Chelsea fans in the state where football is most watched and played, blurring the social and rural-urban divide.
The selection of Kerala by Chelsea as a place of remarkable beauty will further strengthen the state’s global connect, especially with football lovers from all continents. The UK was already a big market for Kerala tourism, Mr Rias said.
The image, which went viral, garnered plenty of appreciative comments with fans urging the Blues to make an actual tour of the state. Interestingly, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba along with his wife Lalla attended the world premiere of ‘Your Moment Is Waiting’, a three-minute film on Kerala, at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea in September 2010.
After the screening, Drogba said, “Kerala is a dream place.” Former England striker and Golden Boot winner Gary Linekar, who had also seen the film then, said, “Kerala is a place you want to go.”