CHENNAI: TNIE GOAL 2018, the seventh edition of the all-Kerala inter-collegiate football tournament organised by The New Indian Express (TNIE) Group, got off to an exhilarating start at the Maharaja’s College Stadium in Kochi on Tuesday. The tournament, approved by the Kerala Football Association, will reward the champions with Rs 2 lakhs and the runners-up with `1 lakh. Apart from that, there are individual awards on offer, with the winners taking home motorbikes.
This year, as many as 432 budding footballers from 24 colleges across the state will play under the floodlights at the venue, which was recently upgraded to FIFA standards for the 2017 U-17 World Cup. All players will be given match fees, playing kits, travel allowance and accommodation. Kerala Governor P Sathasivam inaugurated the event which was attended by former Kerala Blasters coach Terry Phelan, Mayor Soumini Jain, and MP KV Thomas, among others.
More than 15 players who have played in GOAL have gone on to represent the Kerala state football team in the Santosh Trophy while three are part of the current Kerala Blasters FC first team. Maharaja’s College played MPMM SN College (Shoranur) in the opening match while UC College (Aluva) locked horns with MIC Arts and Science College (Malappuram) in the second match.The semis will be held on February 2. The final will be held on February 4. Nirmala College (Muvattupuzha) are the defending champions.
Last season, half of the 20-member Keala state team, had played in GOAL. That included striker Joby Justin, who now plays for East Bengal, and Sahal Abdul Samad, Jishnu Balakrishnan and Ajith Sivan, who are now part of Blasters.