A clutch of India’s football greats and members of city giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan were present when the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Trophy was unveiled on Friday by state Sports Minister Aroop Biswas at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra here.
Former stars like P.K. Banerjee, Shyam Thapa, Subrata Bhattacharya, Gautam Sarkar, Bidesh Bose, Prasun Banerjee, Biswajit Bhattachrya, Prasanta Banerjee, Syed Nayeemuddin were among the distinguished guests who were on the dais when the Trophy was launched amidst fanfare.
“Seeing this trophy in front of their eyes, the budding footballers will get inspired to do something in football. I am thrilled to be around the World Cup crown and I am sure the next generation footballers will be too,” P.K. Banerjee told reporters on the sidelines of the trophy launch.
“India probably won’t win the World Cup. That is too much to expect of them. But the fact that the boys will play against the best and in a World Cup will do their confidence a world of good,” Subrata Bhattacharya opined.
“It is a huge honour for Kolkata, a city known for its football fever, to host the Winner’s Trophy and the World Cup, which is only days away from now,” Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Biswas added.
Current Mohun Bagan and East Bengal players posed together with the trophy. East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil was also present.
Bengal Football Academy cadets, Kalighat Milan Sangha football school and East Bengal junior team players also posed with the piece of silverware made of a combination of copper-based alloy, zinc, copper, sterling silver and stainless steel.
It stands 49.5 cms tall and weighs 4.6 kgs. It was made in Birmingham in England in 2004.
The Winner’s Trophy will be on display at the Mission XI Million festival at South City International School on Saturday, where children who are part of the legacy programme of the U-17 World Cup can come and pose with it.
Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium will host 10 matches including the final on October 28. There will be one round of 16, one quarter-final and a third-place match besides five Group F and one Group E tie.
There will be a three-day FIFA Council meeting ahead of the summit clash.
“It will be a high profile meeting to be held between October 26-28. Preparations are on regarding that too,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) Senior Vice President Subrata Dutta told IANS.
The Council consists of 37 members — the President, eight Vice Presidents and 28 other members.