Imphal (Manipur)[India], August 18 (ANI): The 131st Durand Cup was hosted for the first time In the Northeastern city of Manipur. The inauguration of the Durand Cup was done by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in front of Chief Minister N Biren Singh. Fans too had come in large numbers to witness the event.
On this occasion, Defence Minister said "First of all, I would like to thank Manipur CM N Biren Singh. I would also like to congratulate all the brothers and sisters of Manipur. Durand Cup being hosted in Imphal is a historic day for Manipur. I would like to congratulate the organizers, participants and the people of Manipur."
"Chief Minister N Biren is developing Manipur at a fast pace. Hosting Durand Cup in Manipur is proof of the Northeast's growing prestige in the entire country. Durand Cup was hosted earlier too but it was hosted in plain areas now this being hosted in Manipur is a matter of pride for the Northeast. It has happened for the first time that the kind of kick football has got that has not fallen anywhere. If it has fallen then it has fallen in the land of Manipur. I would like to say that our Army soldiers too have contributed a lot to it," added Rajnath Singh.
Durand Cup is being supported in Manipur by the Government of Manipur and the elaborate opening ceremony organized before the historic first-ever Durand Cup game in the State was graced by Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister, Government of India and N. Biren Singh, Chief Minister, Manipur, in front of a crowd of over 25,000 people.
Incidentally, the Manipur Chief Minister is also a former winner of the Durand Cup. The ceremony also included an Armed Forces bands display as well as an energetic performance of the tournament theme song by star singers Papon and Rewben Mashangwa.
"Dedication, loyalty and discipline are found in our sportspersons just like our soldiers. I feel politicians should have the energy level of a sportsperson so that he can serve the people without any greed. I can say that Chief Minister N Biren Singh was in Border Security Force and he has also played Durand Cup," said Defence Minister.
"Government of India is focussing more on sports than before. Earlier we used to not perform in sports the way we should but the way Indian players have performed in the last 6-7 years be it Olympics, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games. In every game, we are achieving new heights. In the international community also India's prestige has grown and in this our armed forces and their jawans have contributed a lot," told Rajnath Singh.
"Earlier all the attention was on cricket but with the efforts of the Indian government, we are winning medals in sports which are not that popular. Today there is participation from all over the country from different sections of society. Earlier sports were filled with politics and I believe that there should not be any politics in sports. Rather in politics, there should be sportsmanship and the energy of sports," said Rajnath Singh
The ceremony concluded with the playing of the FIFA Theme song and the introduction of dignitaries with the players and their photos with the teams and the Durand Trophies. (ANI)