SRINAGAR: The second phase of the first Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (MMS) Memorial Football Tournament is scheduled to begin in Kashmir from today at TRC ground. The first leg of the event, being organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA) under the auspices of State Sports Council and on the directions of All India Football Federation (AIFF), had started in August last year and more than 1400 matches were played in it. In the second phase, nearly 700 matches are expected to be held at different venues across the state. The aim holding the tournament is to unearth the hidden talent in all corners of the state including remote areas. In Srinagar district 104 clubs/ teams participated in the first phase of the event and 280 matches of premier division, super division, A, B and sub junior categories were held between August and December 2017. After first phase, J&K Bank, J&K Police, Real Kashmir I-League Club, Lonestar Kashmir FC I-League Club, AG’s Office team, Maharaja Sports Club have qualified for the final phase of the premier division while two teams among Bandipora XI, J&K Bank Academy Srinagar, Jammu United, Jammu, Shaheen Sports, Jammu, J&K Bank Academy Jammu and J&K SFA XI will vie for the premier division berth. JKFA President Zamir Thakur said, “The event turned out as a mega hit among the football fans in 2017 and we are hopeful it will in long run help us to find raw talent from across the state. Football has given the state 30 international players and is most popular game here. It has history of more than 100 years in valley and from that time it has come a long way. From last few years, it is regaining its popularity and we are sure that this event will bring it back the lost glory.” “Football which is the most popular game in Kashmir has today touched its zenith in popularity. In seventies and eighties Kashmir along with Kolkata, Kerala and Goa was considered as hub of football in India. With the formation of two I-League clubs in recent years by two business groups of the Valley, we are hopeful that the game of football will bring more glory to the state in coming years,” Thakur said. The event is being sponsored by J&K Sports Council. A spokesperson of the JKFA while thanking the Sports Council for sponsoring such a mega event said the winner and runner up teams at district level and inter-district and state level shall be awarded cash prizes and merit certificates in the upcoming award functions.