132nd Durand Cup trophies unveiled in Guwahati, football tournament to kick off on August 3
Guwahati/IBNS: Guwahati held a grand ceremony in which the trophies for the prestigious 132nd Durand Cup were officially unveiled on Saturday, marking the beginning of their three-day city tour.
Assam's sports and youth welfare minister, Nandita Gorlosa, took center stage as she formally revealed the trophies, accompanied by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Command, Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita, and other distinguished guests, reported The Assam Tribune.
The Durand Cup football tournament, organized by the Indian Army on behalf of the three Services, stands as the country's sole cup tournament that brings together Service Teams and top teams from various divisions of Indian football.
The highly anticipated event is scheduled to commence on August 3, with Guwahati serving as the host for nine matches. The opening game, set for the evening of August 4, will witness a Northeast derby between local team NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) and debutants Shillong Lajong at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.
All matches, including a quarterfinal knockout game, will take place at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, culminating in the final showdown on September 3, which is scheduled to be held in Kolkata. Notably, Guwahati has been granted the honor of hosting the Durand Cup for the second consecutive year.
Nandita Gorlosa addressed the gathering, highlighting Assam's remarkable progress in sports, with young athletes representing the country in various disciplines.
She emphasized that hosting premier national tournaments like the Durand Cup boosts the morale of the state's talented footballers, providing them with an opportunity to witness their favorite teams and stars up close.
She extended her gratitude to the Indian Army and the Eastern Command, led by Lt Gen Kalita, for organizing this iconic tournament in Assam with utmost enthusiasm, efficiency, and professionalism.
In his address, Lt Gen Kalita acknowledged the rich tradition of the Durand Cup and its deep-rooted connection with the Indian Armed Forces. He further shed light on the three unique trophies associated with the tournament: the Durand Cup (a rolling trophy and the original prize), the Shimla Trophy (another rolling trophy first presented by a resident of Shimla in 1904), and the President's Cup (a permanent keep, initially presented by India's first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, in 1956).
The tour of the three trophies commenced on July 15 in Guwahati, where they visited prominent landmarks such as Royal Global University, the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Gauhati Town Club, Maa Kamakhya Temple, Govindam Sweet, B Borooah College, and Roodraksh Mall, among others.
The trophies were also put on public display at the State War Memorial on July 15, the City Centre Mall on July 16, and Cotton College and IOCL on July 17.
The 15-city Trophy Tour was inaugurated on June 30 in New Delhi, jointly flagged off by General Manoj Pande, Chief of Army Staff, Indian Army; Air Chief Marshal VK Chaudhary, Chief of Air Staff; and Kalyan Chaubey, president of All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The tour will further include cities such as Kokrajhar, Shillong, Kathmandu, and Dhaka, before concluding in Kolkata, the venue for the tournament's finals.
This edition of the Durand Cup promises to be grander than ever, featuring 24 teams, an increase from the previous edition's 20 teams. The lineup includes all 12 Indian Super League (ISL) sides, along with service teams from neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal, marking foreign participation in this legendary tournament after a hiatus of 27 years.