The seventh edition of the GOAL 2018, the annual All-Kerala Inter-Collegiate Football Tournament organised by The New Indian Express Group, was held at the historic Maharaja's College Stadium in Kochi between January 23 and February 4. The Kerala Football Association-approved tournament was held in a knockout format with 23 matches played across 12 match days. Twenty-four top teams from four universities were in the fray. The matches were held under floodlights at the venue renovated for the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
The opening and final day's matches were telecast live on Asianet Cable Vision. The tournament also garnered tremendous interest across all social media platforms.
Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur lifted their third TNIE GOAL title defeating St Thomas College, also from Thrissur, in a nail-biting final decided in the penalty shootout (6-5). The champions bagged `2 lakh while the runners-up went home with `1 lakh. Individual performances were also recognised with cash awards for 11 leading players, including Player of the Tournament, Best Striker, Best Midfielder, Best Defender, Best Goalkeeper, Top-scorer and Promising Player, worth a total purse of `5 lakh.
Jithin MS, the GOAL 2018 Player of the Tournament, went on to play a stellar role in Kerala's recent Santosh Trophy title win. Just like in GOAL 2018, he emerged the tournament top-scorer with five goals. There were a total of nine GOAL 2018 players in the 20-member Kerala squad. Including past TNIE GOAL players, the number goes up to 15.
Kerala Governor P Sathasivam inaugurated the tournament while Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was the Chief Guest for the Valedictory Function. Former Kerala Blasters FC coach and Ireland World Cupper Terry Phelan, current Blasters assistant coach Thangboi Singto, KV Thomas MP, film director Arun Gopy and KFA president K M I Mather were among those who attended the opening and closing sessions.