Maharashtra legislators play soccer to promote it in rural areas

Mumbai: A last minute proposal in the House by Higher & Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde that the state government wants to promote soccer in rural areas and small towns led to a soccer slugfest on the Assembly premises on Thursday.

Two teams of legislators from the Lower House versus the Upper House were formed and a match was convened. Nationalist Congress Leader Ajit Pawar, however, objected to it saying only two days of the session were left and businesses of the House have to continue and there was no need to take a break. Finally, all difference over the matter was resolved and set aside one hour of playing football.

It was one of those rare moments in the Assembly when the members of both ruling parties and opposition came together to play soccer. On other days of the Assembly, legislators of the treasury and the opposition benches are always aiming for each other’s jugulars, but once they resolved to come out and play together there was no stopping them.

Just outside the gates of the Assembly, arrangements were made in the parking lot, by laying a mini football pitch with fake grass. The two teams of eleven members each were named Speaker’s Eleven versus the Chairman’s Eleven. The match was kicked off by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who took to giving a runnng commentary. Minister Tawde officiated the 90-minute game.

Goal keeper Narendra Patil preferred to play barefoot  given the fact most struggled to play football. There was much mirth and chaos as Under-17 FIFA World Cup footballers were there to witness the elected representatives fall and rise at the field. Towards the end of the match, referee Tawde settled an argument over some foul cry.

The match will definitely encourage 10 lakh school students of Maharashtra who will play football on September 8, ahead of the FIFA-Under-17 World Cup, Tawde told the media. The FIFA U-17 World Cup is being held in India from October 6-8.

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