KANGPOKPI, Oct 13 : With 66 teams into the fray battle for a whopping Rs 1 lakh champions prize, the prestigious Kuki Football Academy's 5th edition of Open Night Tournament kicked off successfully yesterday at D Phaihel village in Kangpokpi District.
Former Minister, Haokholet Kipgen kicked off the night tournament with great fanfare and pleasure as he graced the opening ceremony as chief guest in the presence of Kamginmang Kipgen, chief of Gamnomphai village who attended the occasion as functional president.
Karthik Malladi, SP Kangpokpi and James Doujapao Haokip, CEO Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council Kangpokpi also attended the event as guests of honour.
Addressing the gathering after hoisting the Kuki Football Academy's flag as a mark of opening the 5th edition of the football tournament, Haokholet Kipgen said that the KFA's open night football tournament which started five years back signified peace in the district and conveyed his utter happiness to witness nightlife in the district after many years of fear and panic.
He continued that for the past many years, people of Kangpokpi could not dare to step out of their houses after dark and lived pitiful lives. But now we can play football after dark under bright lights without any fear and apprehension and it clearly exhibits peace and normalcy in the district, he said.
He pointed out that time has come for the people of Kangpokpi to witness developments as peace prevails in the district and drew the attention of the State Government to focus on developing Kangpokpi district.
He also encouraged the people of Kangpokpi to live with a vision and mission and work with determination in all aspects of life.
To mark the auspicious opening ceremony, an enthralling friendly match was played between Kuki Film Development Corporation (KFDC) led by its president Paoneo Haokip and Mami Thawan led by Romi Meetei and Manipur superstar Sadananda.
Mami Thawan defeated KFDC 4-2 with goals from Aboi (1'), Avinash (18'), Romi Lamabam (47') and Angsim (59') while Paominthang (2') and Boboi (25') scored for KFDC.
Thadou Inpi Kangpokpi district president, Thangliensei Kipgen while appreciating the participation of Mami Thawan, appealed to the organization to be an ambassador of peace and understanding among all communities living together in the State.
Later, the opening match between Kholjang Youth Club and Lalcha Memorial Team (LMT) Saparmeina ended 3-0 in favor of LMT Saparmeina.
Lun Lotzem (3'), Momon (25'), and Bennaldinho (63') scored for the winning team.
As many as sixty-six teams/clubs from across the district and State registered for the tournament which carries a winners prize of Rs 1,00,000 and runners up prize of Rs 70,000 along with trophies. The teams are clubbed into 22 pools (3 teams each) and top two teams from each pool will reach the knock-out stage. Much to the attraction of the players and teams, there are also individual prizes including "Man of the Tournament, Top Scorer, Best Keeper, Best Defender, Best Midfielder, hattrick etc".
There will be three-match every night which will kick off at 5 pm.
The opening ceremony was also attended by H Vikramjit Singh, Thangliensei Kipgen, Lamminthang Neishiel and Lamminthang Misao apart from village chiefs, CSOs leaders, etc.
KFA General Secretary, Thangminlen Kipgen presented all the dignitaries with traditional shawls and mementos as a token of love and respect.