Football frenzy is back on the campuses in Kerala. Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ajay Maken kicked off ‘Goal 2013’, the second edition of the All-Kerala Inter-collegiate Football Tournament, organised by The New Indian Express at Sacred Heart College ground here on Wednesday.
Adding glitter to the tournament, actor Mammootty launched the event by hoisting the tournament flag amid the roar of thousands of cheering youngsters.
Inaugurating the tournament, Union Minister Ajay Maken was all praise for the Express initiative. “As a Minister who was once holding the Sports portfolio, I highly appreciate the initiative to promote football in Kerala,” he said.
The august gathering, presided over by The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla, also witnessed the dream team of 1973 Santosh Trophy coming together after decades.
Speaking on the occasion, Mammootty too shared the joy of meeting the legendary players.
“As a college student, I too was part of the roaring galleries which applauded these players at Maharaja’s College Ground. They were like thunder and lightning. I still remember those vibrant passes on the ground,” the actor recalled.
Mammootty appealed to the Union Minister to give due consideration to sports talents from the state as he felt there was a bias towards players from the South.
“Sir, there’s no South India or North India; but only India,” Mammootty said while the footballers who thronged the stadium cheered him.
Presiding over the function, Prabhu Chawla pointed to the need for Kerala to regain its past glory.
“Once, half of India’s football team was from Kerala, which is the Mecca of Football. When sports, politicians and entertainment come together, there’s rich potential for the development of the state. Kerala can become the number one state of the country,” Prabhu Chawla said. TNIE Resident Editor Vinod Mathew Jacob also spoke.
The players and officials of the 1973 team were honoured by BJP state president V Muraleedharan, CPI state secretary Pannian Raveendran, Kochi Corporation Deputy Mayor B Bhadra and SH College Principal Prashanth Palakkappillil.
The Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, champions of ‘Goal 2012’, announced its powerful return to the tournament by defeating Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, by 4-0 in the inaugural match.
The day also witnessed some rare moments when the 1973 Santosh Trophy team took on SH Thevara in a display match. The second match between University College, T’Puram, and Physical Education College, Kannur, ended in a 1-1 draw.