Mumbai: Children from schools across Mumbai had a chance to play and demonstrate their skills in front of World Cup Winner Carles Puyol at the Mission XI Million festival in the Mumbai Football Arena, Andheri Sports Complex. Minister of State(IC) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Vijay Goel, Chairperson of Shiv Sena, Aditya Uddhav Thackery and Adidas Technical Director and 2 time FIFA World Cupper with Nigeria, Rubio Afolabi were also present on the occasion.
More than 500 children from various academies and schools were seen at the festival, engaging in a variety of activities. The kids got a chance to play exhibition games with Puyol and demonstrate the skills they have gained through Mission XI Million in front of the FIFA Legend. The children were later felicitated by the FIFA Legend.
Speaking at the festival, the former Barcelona defender said, “For India to become a footballing nation, kids need to start playing and parents, schools and other institutions have to promote the sport. Children have to practice, and they have to have fun while playing! Mission XI Million is doing exactly that and I think it is a great step to make football in the country more popular”.
The Mission XI Million festival also included an Adidas “Masterclass” conducted by Rubio Afolabi, where they got learned a variety of training drills like shielding the ball, close control, making use of both feet and increasing agility from former FIFA World Cup participant.
Expanding on the initiative, Tournament Director for the Local Organising Committee of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, Javier Ceppi added, “It was very important for us to have a FIFA Legend such as Carles Puyol seen on the ground how Mission XI Million is changing the landscape of Indian Football. He was extremely happy to see the passion that kids have for the game here and to realise that football is indeed taking over the country.
We have already engaged almost 4 million kids on this project and now, when we start doing festivals more frequently, all the communities will get fully involved”.
Tipped to be the largest school contact programme in the country, Mission XI Million will reach out to 11 million children before the FIFA U-17 World Cup begins in October later this year.