Belgaum’s football season kicks off with the Royceton Gomes Memorial tournament in the month of July. Now the Royceton Gomes Memorial Sports Organisation undertakes two tournaments on the St.Paul’s hostel grounds, one Invitation Cup and another Memorial Cup. While the matches for ‘Invitation Cup’ will be held from July 18 to 22, the ‘Memorial Cup’ matches will be conducted from July 24 to August 7. Six teams, one from Mumbai, two from Goa and three from Belgaum city will compete for the Invitation Cup, on league-cum-knockout basis. For the Memorial Cup, 19 teams from local schools will be participating. The finals of the tournament will be played on Royceton’s Gomes birthday, August 7.
The history that precedes these tournaments dates back to August 25, 1979, when a little boy, Royceton Gomes, aged nine, was studying in standard 3 at St. Paul’s High School in Belgaum city. On that fateful day he went on a picnic with his father to Gokak Falls. Royceton left the house all excited, but never to return.
He met his end in a shallow canal adjoining the dam at the picnic spot near the falls. The hazardous waters swept him away. Later, his body was recovered after a search operation. His parents were in shock.
Royceton had been fond of football. It drove his father, Joe Gomes, to start a football tournament in his memory. In 1981, a few of his father’s close friends started the tournament on St. Paul’s grounds. Over the years it has gained popularity and today, after 27 years, the tournament is one of the most-looked forward to annual event. Participants are not only the local schools but also teams from Mumbai, Pune and Goa.
This tournament has seen one of the most disciplined teams playing each other. The standard of the teams has also increased with time. Out of the 27 years that’s this tournament has been played St.Paul’s have won it 22 times, Phoenix School 4 times and Belgaum Military School once.
Many of those reading this might have just remembered themselves playing or cheering, the atmosphere is thrilling and the under 13 lads just play good football.
Photo: Santosh Purohit