‘The New Indian Express’ Goal initiative to promote football at college level scripted a new chapter in its nascent history when the final round of Goal-2014 was kicked off in the floodlit Sacred Heart College ground on Sunday.
“Goal-2014 has been one of the best tournaments organised in the state for the past couple of years,” said Kerala Football Association general secretary P Anil Kumar, who was in attendance to watch the opener.
The football fever was on hours before the ball got rolling. Football enthusiasts thronged in fair numbers to the stadium for the final round of the inter-state collegiate tournament where eight teams qualified from the previous matches, held in Koyilandy and Tiruvalla, will vie for the winner’s trophy. Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Anoop Jacob inaugurated the final round of the tournament on Sunday evening. He appreciated the efforts of ‘The New Indian Express’ in organising a unique college-level football tournament annually.
“We have talented sportspersons in our state. But what we lack, perhaps, is encouragement,” he said.
Kerala Congress Ernakulam district president Vincent Joseph, former international footballer Xavier Pius, former Santosh Trophy star Blassey George and Ernakulam District Football Association joint secretary P K Dileep Kumar attended the inaugural function.
Two stalwarts of Indian sports stood face to face before the goal post in an informal kick-off event. Olympian and Arjuna Award winner Mercy Kuttan took a penalty kick against P Anil Kumar, who stood as goalie, and defended it diligently. With this, the final lap of the tournament, and the football frenzy, was kicked off.
Match commissioner Michael Andrews controlled the ball play. V M Hamid, who has been conducting C H Mohammed Koya Tournament for the past 30 years, said the floodlit ambience drew more crowds. “It is a different feel for the tournament as it is being conducted at night. It has also drawn more audience to the ground,” he said.
In the two matches played, Thumba St Xaviers’ College won against Thrissur Kerala Varma College for an unreturned single goal, while the match between Mar Athanasius and Payyannur College was 2-2 draw. “The players delivered more than what we would expect from average college players. In the first match, though Kerala Varma played well, Thumba played extremely well,” said former Santosh Trophy star T A Jafar.