Kerala Blasters Football Club is an Indian professional football team based in Thiruvananthpuram and Kochi, that competes in the Indian Super League. The team was founded on 27 May 2014 by former Indian cricket captain, Sachin Tendulkar, as one of the initial teams in the Indian Super League, after Tendulkar, along with Prasad V Potluri won the rights to Kochi franchise. The teams home stadium is currently theJawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.The Kerala Blasters have an annual revenue of $15 million.
The Kerala Blasters played their inaugural match on 13 October 2014, losing 0–1 to NorthEast United at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. After the first season of the ISL, the Kerala Blasters lead the league in attendance with an average attendance of 47,427. The semi-final match between the Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin managed to draw 61,323 people to the ground, making it the second most attended game of the season, behind the inaugural ISL game between Atlético de Kolkata and Mumbai City.
During their inaugural season, the Kerala Blasters managed to make it all the way to the ISL final where they faced Atlético de Kolkata at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai. After ninety minutes of action, it was Atlético de Kolkata who came out as the 1–0 winners after Mohammed Rafique scored the winner in the 95th minute.
In early 2014, it was announced that the All India Football Federation, the national federation for football in India, and IMG–Reliance would be accepting bids for ownership of eight of the nine selected cities for the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL), a franchise tournament modelled along the lines of the Indian Premier League for cricket. On 13 April 2014 it was announced that the rights to the Kochi franchise were won by former India cricket captain, Sachin Tendulkar, and serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, and educationalist, Prasad V Potluri. Then, on 27 May 2014, the teams official name was unveiled as the ‘Kerala Blasters FC’ which is based on the nickname of co-owner Tendulkar, the “Master Blaster”.
Construction of the team for the first season started on 22 July when the Kerala Blasters, along with the other seven franchises, took part in the domestic draft to select the first fourteen Indian players in each team. India international Mehtab Hossain was the first draft pick made by Kerala Blasters and thus the first player in Kerala Blasters history. At the end of the draft, the Blasters were composed of fourteen players, including Hossain: Avinabo Bag, Sandip Nandy, Chinadorai Sabeeth, Luis Barreto, Milagres Gonsalves, Ramandeep Singh, Renedy Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Ishfaq Ahmed, Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chettri, Sushanth Mathew, and Godwin Franco.
On 13 August 2014, former England international goalkeeper, David James, was announced as the first head coach of the Kerala Blasters and the first marquee player in team history, thus coming in as a player-head coach. Then, on 21 August 2014, the team participated in the international draft in which each team selected seven foreign players to join their team. Former Newcastle United forward Michael Chopra was the first foreign player drafted by the Kerala Blasters.
The Kerala Blasters played their first ever match away from home on 13 October 2014 against NorthEast United at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. A Koke goal in the 45th minute saw the Blasters lose their inaugural match 0–1. The teams second match saw the first goal scored in Kerala Blasters history by Canadian international Iain Hume but it could not prevent the team from losing to Chennaiyin 1–2. It took the Kerala Blasters till their fourth game to get their first victory when they took on Pune City. Goals fromChinadorai Sabeeth and Penn Orji lead the Blasters to a come from behind 2–1 victory.
After starting the season with a five-game away run, the Kerala Blasters played their first home match on 6 November 2014 against Goa. A Milagres Gonsalves goal lead the Blasters to a home-debut 1–0 victory over the Goans in front of 49,517 fans at theJawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The Kerala Blasters managed to book their spot into the finals on 9 December 2014. A 1–0 victory of Pune City ensured the Blasters of qualification.
The Kerala Blasters played their first finals match on 13 December 2014 against southern rivals, Chennaiyin. Despite not being considered the favourite to win the two-legged tie out of the two, Blasters won the first leg at home in emphatic fashion with 3–0 score through goals from Ishfaq Ahmed, Iain Hume, and Sushanth Mathew. In the second leg, in Chennai, the Kerala Blasters suffered a massive scare. Despite going into the second leg with the 3–0 advantage, Chennaiyin managed to draw the tie level by winning in regular time 3–0 themselves. However, in extra-time, the Kerala Blasters managed to strike back and score the decisive goal in the 117th minute from Stephen Pearson to win the tie 4–3 and thus enter the final.
In the final, the Kerala Blasters took on Atlético de Kolkata at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai. Despite holding on for ninety minutes, it was Atlético de Kolkata that came out on top with a Mohammed Rafique goal in the 95th minute earning the Kolkata side the title with a 1–0 victory.
Peter Taylor era: 2015–present
After the 2014 season, it was announced that David James would not be returning the team as head coach and that former England U20 head coach, Peter Taylor would take over. With the departure of James, the Blasters also needed to make a new marquee player signing. In August, it was announced that former Spanish international, Carlos Marchena, would be signed as the new marquee for the club. As well as Marchena, in anticipation for the 2015 season, the Kerala Blasters also managed to sign former Premier League players Peter Ramage, Stephen Bywater, Bruno Perone, and Sanchez Watt while also signing former Benfica player João Coimbra.
Colours and logo
The official logo of the Kerala Blasters was unveiled on 15 September 2014. The logo, designed by Brash Brands, is built along the lines of the culture of Kerala by using the elephant, reflecting the pride of the state. Along with the elephant is a football which is being cradled by the elephant. Describing the logo, co-owner Prasad V Potluri, said “The logo reflects the cultural and sporting legacy of Kerala symbolized by the elephant. The elephant is a ers.”
Along with the logo, the official home kit of the Kerala Blasters was also unveiled on 15 September 2014. The kit, designed by German company, Puma, features a yellow shirt with blue shorts. The Muthoot Pappachan Group meanwhile feature on the Kerala Blasters shirt as title sponsor for the team. Mobile wallet service provider Oxigen has partnered with Kerala Blasters Football Club as their official payments solution sponsor. Aster Medcity is the Official “Health and Wellness Partner” of Kerala Blasters FC.