15 lakh students to take part in football festival on Sept. 15

Ahead of world cup, Maharashtra Mission 1 Million kicks off

Updated - September 13, 2017 11:58 pm IST

Published - September 13, 2017 11:57 pm IST

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the launch of the ‘Host City’ logo for Navi Mumbai, one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the launch of the ‘Host City’ logo for Navi Mumbai, one of the venues for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Mumbai: Maharashtra Mission 1 Million, the State government’s programme to popularise and promote football to make the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in October a huge success, kicked off on Wednesday.

Vinod Tawde, Minister for School Education, and Sports and Youth Welfare, said Maharashtra is the first State to support the central government’s ‘Mission 11 Million’ to develop football in the country.

Six cities in India will host the FIFA U-17 World Cup between October 6 and October 28: Navi Mumbai, Kolkata, Margaon, Kochi, Guwahati and Delhi.

The government has organised a State-wide football festival on September 15, in which around 10-15 lakh students are estimated to take part. To encourage students to enjoy the sport, the Education Department has declared the day a non-instructional day.

The State government began its efforts to popularise the sport in August. They began with a football awareness drive in schools and colleges through district sports offices. This was followed by the distribution of 1,00,000 footballs in 30,000 schools, handing out footballs to MLAs during the Assembly session, and district and taluka level workshops and training for over 7,000 physical education teachers and 300 sports coaches.

Mr. Tawde emphasised the need to create sports awareness to keep the youth away from addictions. “We are aiming to use football as a tool for skill development among youth. This pan-Maharashtra participation in the football festival is one of its kind,” the minister said. According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the country will require a workforce of 55 lakh in the sports industry by 2025.

On September 15, matches have been organised among dabbawalas, sports and political journalists, and visually challenged students and tribals at Mumbai Gymkhana. In addition, around 200 football grounds in schools and colleges in the city have been upgraded.

Aniket Jadhav, a participant in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, will be part of the events hosted in Kolhapur. Matches between members of local self-governing bodies and tribal school students in Thane, beach football in Sindhudurg, matches in more than 125 sports clubs in Pune, and in the Naxalite areas of Gondia and Gadchiroli are some of the highlights of the football festival.

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