Sunil Chhetri, current Indian national football team captain, shared the spotlight with former international stars Inder Singh, MaganSingh, Syed Naeemuddin, Bernard Pereira during a unique parade of footballers around Panjim.
Each one of these gentlemen, a crowd-puller in his own right, mixed with school children around the city and distributed footballs as a way of promoting the game.
The footballers parade, in a float around the city streets on Saturday, was a novel experience for Inder, Magan, Naeemuddin and Bernard, each one had delighted Goan fans during their playing days. Chhetri was the most recognised face during the school visits, in keeping with his status as Churchill Brothers’ star forward. The initiative was part of Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) conference, titled GIFT 2013.
The Indian captain spoke about being happy with the opportunity to talk directly with kids. “The difference between all of us here and you children is that you still have a chance to choose a career. You can be anything that you want in life but always follow your dream. While doing that, it is very important to take up a sport because no matter what game you play, it is going to make you a better human being. I can tell from own experience.”
Bernard, a famous name representing Vasco SC in Goa before moving to Orkay SC in Mumbai, said: “We had a fan following as players, it was different to see kids’ reactions when my football achievements were read out.”
Dronacharya awardee, Naeemuddin, remarked: “Goa has a way of doing things in a special way. We felt the passion for football and footballers among the people and school children at the parade.”
Leader Club, Punjab and India striker Inder Singh and former India captain and noted forward Magan Singh enjoyed the attention. Film star Suniel Shetty and juggler Jester Antony were other major attractions.
The parade made stopovers at Don Bosco School (Panjim), Sharda Mandir School (Miramar), Our Lady of the Rosary (Dona Paula), Auxilium Convent (Caranzalem) and Red Rosary School (Miramar).