Bhubaneswar, Aug. 20: The Unit-VI Athletic Association, which has been working towards making football popular among teenagers, is celebrating the silver jubilee of its most coveted Bhubaneswar Inter-school Football Tournament.
The annual tournament, also known as Kalinga Marine Bibekananda Memorial Inter-school Football Tournament, has been under way on the Unit-VI High School ground since Tuesday.
“Cuttack and Rourkela have always shown interest in sports. But in Bhubaneswar, there are hardly any football events organised for youngsters. This inter-school football meet helps inculcate the love for the game in the youths,” said Dilip Kumar Das, secretary of the association.
This year, altogether 24 teams from Bhubaneswar are taking part in the league-cum-knockout tournament. The teams are divided into eight groups, and after the league matches, top two teams of each group will face each other in the pre-quarter final.
Various other sporting events have also been arranged to celebrate silver jubilee. This includes penalty kick contest, target shooting, long-range shooting and a quiz contest. The tournament will continue till September 14.
“We will try our best to retain the title. This is a prestigious tournament and helps us know our strengths and weaknesses as a team to face the national-level challenges,” said Antu Murmu of KISS, this year’s defending champion.
Over the years, the tournament has produced many talented players. Some of them are Sk Mustakin, a member of the state team which won the junior national football championship, Debi Prasad Das, who played for Odisha as a goalkeeper at the Santosh Trophy, Sanjib Pattasani, who is also a Santosh Trophy player, and Pankaj Sona, who plays for Aryan club in Calcutta.
“The tournament helped us play at a competitive level at an age when we hardly used to get a forum to play football. It has been a very helpful initiative,” said Sona.