Kasaragod: Kerala is a land of football fandom even shrinking football space to make it its own. The popular sevens tournament, especially in the Malabar region is enough to fill the gallery with football-mad spectators.
Ukkisimavo Bevenhuvin, a West African footballer, fondly called Benny by the people of this Kerala village, is one such ‘sevens’ player hailing from West African nation, Rwanda.
Benny has not been able to return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The villagers of Kadakam in Kasargod have now joined hands to help their footballing hero in all possible ways.
As they say football unites people. Bevenhuvin is having an emotional connect to the little village through football for the past ten years and has established a strong bond with the people here.
Bevehuvin landed in Kerala for the first time in 2010 to play Sevens football tournament for Kadakam Friends Combines, the village sports club.
Through his simplicity in mingling with people and innocent nature, Bevenhuvin became a good friend for the local residents here from then on and became fondly called Benny.
This year, Benny had come to India to join for his post-graduation degree in Chennai. Before going to Chennai, he reached the remote village to meet his friends and participate in a friend’s marriage. But, the marriage had to be postponed owing to COVID-19 and Benny got stuck too, no able to leave thereafter.
He stays in the room rented by his club members. Though he has no problem in getting food and other essentials through these COVID times, he has been wanting to go back home, as his family back there are facing difficulties due to COVID.
As Benny struggles financially, his fans and villagers decided to earn money for him to return home safely. The members of Kadakam Friends Combines are collectively doing contract works together to raise funds for Benny’s travel tickets and other expenses.
Benny, hailing from a distant corner of the world and being able to experience the love of a whole village in Kerala, says, though I am not born here, those at Kadakam are my family.