World Cup Soccer fever has also reached Berhampur with veteran football players making efforts to use this international sporting event to popularise the game among youngsters and the common mass.
Quite a number of veteran players, who had played in the State football team live in Berhampur and Ganjam district. “There was a time few decades back when several players of our region used to represent in the State team, but at present interest in the game is going down among youngsters,” said former secretary of Ganjam Bar Association Manoj Patnaik.
A few decades back, a national football tournament ‘Fiaz Memorial Trophy’ was played in the city every year. People used to buy tickets to witness matches of this tournament. But at present only a few football clubs exist in Berhampur. Football clubs consist of mostly middle aged veteran players with few youngsters as the new generation seems to be more interested in cricket.
Members of Baracks Football Club as well as the autorickshaw association decided to use the World Cup football occasion to attract youngsters.
Members of the two organisations with the support of sports lovers have come up with two large display boards which would be put up at the old bus stand square in the heart of the city. One of them has detailed information regarding the teams that are playing in this world cup as well as the date and time of their matches as per the IST. The other display board has pictures of top players of all teams playing in the World Cup.
According to Gopal Panda, a veteran football player, results of each match would be updated on display boards.
This group had also planned screening of live matches. But they have now made some changes in their plan as all matches would be played during late night or early morning hours. “We are now planning to have shows of recordings of important matches as well as the final match,” said Gouri Shankar Panda, another former State level soccer player.
“We, the veteran football players, have decided to meet at the old bus stand square every morning and evening near display boards to answer queries of youngsters as well as others regarding football and World Cup matches,” said Mr Gopal and Mr Gouri Shankar. They would analyse matches played the previous day with emphasis on making the youngsters understand the intricacies and rules of the game. “It seems enthusiasm has become infectious as my son has demanded a football for his birthday instead of a new bat,” said Srinivas Rajana, a sports enthusiast. Sourec: The Hindu