Kohima: The 23rd edition of the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) Martyrs’ Memorial Trophy kicked off on Monday evening at the Indira Gandhi stadium in Kohima.
Nagaland’s famed football tournament has 34 teams, including two from Manipur, vying for the championship trophy. The annual tournament is annually organised by the Angami Students’ Union (ASU) in honour of two of its comrades Kekuojalie Sachü and Vikhozo Yhoshü.
At the end of the month-long tournament, the winning team will walk away with a cash reward of Rs 2.5 lakh along with a running trophy and certificates.
The runner-up team will receive a cash reward of Rs 1.5 lakh. The tournament was inaugurated by Advisor Youth Resources and Sports, S Keoshu Yimkhiung.
Addressing football lovers ahead of the first match of the much-awaited tournament, Yimkhiung lauded the organisers for remembering the martyrs who made sacrifices for the “rightful cause of the Nagas”.
He encouraged the youth to realise the importance of games and sports and further pursue it as a profession. Nagas, both young and old, he observed, are football lovers and good players. However, he observed that the talents are not being utilised due to lack of consistency and dedication.
He recalled how Naga football pioneer Dr T Ao was able to lead the Indian team at a time when there was no sports infrastructure in the state. In comparison to the past, he highlighted how sports infrastructure in the state has improved over the years.
The sport, he said, is not only about winning in the matches but to win the hearts of the people through discipline and passion for the sport.
Convenor of the organising committee, Mhasimhalie Mathew Yhome informed that the two NSF martyrs were victims of an indiscriminate firing by the armed police from Alichan when the students’ fraternity on March 22, 1986, was on a peaceful duty call to the extension of disturbed area belt from 5Km to 20Km along the Indo-Myanmar border and against the induction of Indian Police Service (IPS) cadres into Nagaland.
ASU President Khriesamhalie David Mere, in his keynote address said that the annual tournament is held to retrospect the sacrifices of the two martyrs who gave up their lives for the betterment of the Naga society.
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He hoped that the tournament will continue to promote players, encourage youth and inculcate unity in the young minds.
During the inaugural ceremony, NSF President Medovi Rhi also addressed the gathering.
The stadium erupted in cheers from children and football fans as the eagerly anticipated football tournament kicked off with the first match between defending champion New Market FC and 14 FC. New Market FC won the match with 9 goals to nil.
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