Yaseen, Yahya, their two brothers and a sister all support Arsenal and form an interesting sibling bond…
When Anthony Taylor blew his whistle to bring the FA Cup final to a conclusion last week, two young Arsenal supporters erupted in joy from the seats in front of their television thousands of kilometres away from London.
At their home in Kozhikode, a district in the South Indian state of Kerala, 12-year-old Ahmed Yaseen and 8-year-old Ahmed Yahya were beaming when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace helped Arsenal defeat their rivals Chelsea to lift their 14th FA Cup trophy. Having grown up with Gooners, there wasn’t anything anyone could say that could wipe the smiles off their face for the rest of the week.
The clip of the two kids is only a teaser for how football is celebrated in their family. Yaseen and Yahya have two more brothers and two sisters, making up a total of six siblings. Apart from one of their sisters, the rest of the lot follow football and are passionate supporters of Arsenal.
17-year-old Fayaz Muhammed plays football in local tournaments and one of his sisters Fathima Rushda is also an avid follower of the Gunners. The captain of the ship and the person who introduced all of them to the world of football is the eldest child, Rajah Rizwan who incidentally is the team manager of I-League club Gokulam Kerala who are based in Kozhikode.
Only a few months ago, to stop the kids from spending too much time in front of a mobile phone, Rizwan had to negotiate a deal in which they get a Playstation 4 and Arsenal’s new kit. They are very well updated about what’s going on in the football world and the lockdown period has turned the two kids and Fathima into excellent FIFA video game players.
“They know quite a lot not just about Arsenal but several Premier League teams. They can name their own best XIs and are always up-to-date with football news. I have always encouraged them to step out and play football outside instead of sitting at home and spending time on mobile phones,” Rizwan told Goal.
It has become a usual sight to see the two kids tag along with the group of Rizwan, Gokulam Kerala player Salman Kalliyath and Kerala Blasters‘ Arjun Jayaraj when they attend prominent Sevens tournament games. But what do they do there? They tell the players how to actually play football, shout their comments and state their analytical opinions on the game.
“When they talk about football, I am reminded of my childhood, I did not have the resources to explore the sport back then. But I’ve made sure my brothers have access to whatever they need,” the eldest brother said.
A few weeks ago, Yaseen and Yahya saw a video clip of Sergio Ramos passing a penalty kick to Karim Benzema who put the ball into the net only for it to be ruled out a few seconds later. They already had the technical know-how about offsides (something that still bothers a lot of adults!) but were blown away by something they had never seen before, not in FIFA, not in the Premier League since they had started watching.
Rizwan explained what had happened but questions kept coming. When you teach football to young kids, they never stop asking questions.