KOCHI: The likes of Kerala Blasters’ Sahal Abdul Samad and East Bengal’s Jobby Justin got their first breakthrough in the TNIE GOAL all-Kerala inter-college tournament. The event organised by The New Indian Express has unearthed some gems over the years. GOAL has now entered its eighth edition and it continues to churn out talents. In 2018, Kerala won the Santosh Trophy and six players in the Kerala squad featured in GOAL. The name that stands out is Jithin MS. The forward currently is part of Kerala Blasters, but it all started for him with GOAL. The forward was the Player of the Tournament in GOAL. He was later picked up for the Kerala Santosh Trophy team by coach Satheevan Balan.
Jithin turned out to be one of the finest talents to emerge from the Santosh Trophy. The attacker helped Kerala win the title after a 13-year gap and that too by beating Bengal on their own home turf. All this goes to show the impact GOAL has when it comes to giving a platform for youngsters.
“The games are very competitive and only the best teams and the best players can win the title. Today, we just realised how tough the opponents are. The opponents played really well but winning the tournament is a big motivation for us. We want to make the best use of this tournament because a lot of people are watching and the scouts and clubs also keeping an eye. The boys know that,” MPMM SN College Shoranur coach P Ubaid said.
His team beat SH College, Thevara 3-1 in the inaugural match of the tournament on Sunday. In the second match, MES College, Valanchery thrashed UC College, Aluva 5-0.
Samad plays for Kerala Blasters and Justin is impressing at East Bengal and Narayana Menon who has guided Sree Kerala Varma College to three GOAL titles, feel that more such names will emerge.
“We have won the title three times and what you can see is that GOAL benefits the players immensely. Some of them get professional clubs and others get jobs. Our job is to help them extract the maximum
out of such a tournament,” Menon said.
Twenty-four teams will battle it out for the coveted crown over the next two weeks. TNIE GOAL started in 2012 and has continued to maintain its status as one of the most prestigious tournaments in Kerala. On the first day, Jinshad of MES College and Muhammed Yasir of SN College have stood out. The tournament kicked off at the Maharajas College in Kochi on Sunday.