Thiruvananthapuram: It is going to be the most massive enterprise ever to be undertaken by Kerala sport, even if the efforts that went into the successful conduct of the 1987 National Games is taken into account.
The Games had cost the State exchequer a little over Rs. 10 crores then, but what is being attempted now through the Sports Super Bumper lottery, which is being formally launched here on Friday, is to raise a whopping Rs. 100 crores for the development of sports and games in the State.
It is for the first time that such a venture is being launched in the country. And as such, there is considerable optimism when this novel endeavour is put on the boards at a public function to be held at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Central stadium here.
Mooted by Finance Minister, T.M. Thomas Isaac, the idea is on the threshold of crystallising due to the untiring efforts of the Sports Minister, M. Vijayakumar, who through the last three weeks has been pulling all stops to see to it that the whole affair is well coordinated.
In fact, Mr. Vijayakumar was confidence personified to the extent that the efforts of his team would pay off handsomely. "Yes, it is going to be a massive operation and there is the need to sustain the initial tempo right through the next nine weeks so as to achieve the estimated target. However, I am confident that we will cross the target with the help of the people who are sure to contribute their full might for the success of this lottery," he said.
Pele, Lewis to campaign
Attempts are also being made to rope in international legends like Carl Lewis and Pele to support the campaign, though no firm dates have been set so far for their tour to Kerala. Official sources, however, said that Carl Lewis was expected to reach Kerala during the third week of December and Pele during the Christmas - New Year period. Other than the two stalwarts, the organisers are also looking forward to the visit of Milkha Singh and some other prominent stars of yesteryears before the final draw is made in Kozhikode on January 26, 2007.
In the meanwhile, the relay bringing the torch, to be lit at Friday's function, received an enthusiastic reception as it arrived at the Kawdiar Palace from Poonjar, the birthplace of the Col. G.V. Raja, founder-president of the Kerala Sports Council. The torch will be handed over to a prominent athlete by Princess Karthika Thirunal, wife of the late Raja, on Friday afternoon before it is taken to the Central stadium where P.T. Usha and I.M. Vijayan will perform the duties of transforming the fire into a specially-erected cauldron.
The Chief Minister, V.S. Achuthanandan will make the first sale of the tickets, each priced at Rs.100.
The Government is to draw special schemes for developing basic infrastructure across the State and to launch short-term and long-term projects for improving the overall standard of sports and games in Kerala using the proceeds of the lottery.