The 28th edition of the Nehru Cup sub-junior tournament came to a head with Birsa Munda Vidyapitha completing their fine run, ousting holders Govt. Model Senior School, Jalandhar, 2-1.
The match began with the Jalandhar outfit taking the lead through Lavepreet Singh, but Parkash Barla equalised a minute later for Birsa Munda. Captain Sumit Toppo added the second shortly after.
The second half was an end-to-end affair, with both teams coming dangerously close to scoring, but the Orissa team's speed in the attack and stoic defence denied the Jalandhar team their second consecutive title.
"We will not sleep tonight, and we will be dancing and singing all the way back home," said 14-year-old Toppo, anticipating the 36-hour trip back to Rourkela.
All players received Rs 6,000 for their efforts, to be spent on "hockey sticks, pads and shoes". After that, they said, the rest of the money would go on studying material.
Visibly on the brink of tears for the narrow loss, Govt. Model Senior School coach and former India player Gurdev Singh, said:
"It could have gone either ways; the teams were evenly matched. We were fifty-fifty."
In the race for third place, Munnilal Madanlal Vidyamandir School from Faizabad finished on top against Spring Dales School, Amritsar, winning 3-2 through a golden goal.