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UNICEF organises football tournament for children in Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: To mark World Children’s Day on Sunday, UNICEF in association with the Sports and Youth Services Department, Odisha FC, and Prosocio Sports and Games Federation organised a football tournament for children from underprivileged communities.

Around 115 children between 10 to 15 years living in slums participated in the tournament in a unique event to pledge support to every child and encourage girls and boys to play sports for their overall development and well being.

World Children’s Day is celebrated annually on November 20 to commemorate the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted by the UN General Assembly in the year 1959.

UNICEF has been working to ensure that all children score goals in life, and help them to overcome challenges. The focus of World Children’s Day this year is on sports as a powerful means to promote inclusion, equality, and non discrimination.

Attending the inaugural function, Lalitendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, MLA, Brahmagiri said, “This is a wonderful initiative. Sports help children develop important life skills such as leadership, discipline, teamwork, tolerance, hard work, and cooperation.”

Speaking about promoting sports among children, Prateek Singh IPS, Deputy Commissioner of Police said, “Every child deserves to feel celebrated and has the right to be included and protected. They are the nation’s future, we should give them every opportunity to shine in any field of their choice.”

With the football fever gripping the world, the children along with Saswat Joshi danced on the field in celebration.

Earlier in the morning, a few children met Tusharkanti Behera, Minister of the Sports and youth services department. “Odisha Government is on a mission to build world-class sporting facilities and sports ecosystem to help athletes bring glory to the nation. One of the main objectives is to tap talent in the rural belts and facilitate greater access to sports at the panchayat and local level,” shared Behera.

During the day there was a meet and greet session with players of the Odisha FC Men and Women’s team. Shubham Sarangi, Michael Soosairaj from the men’s team, and Banya, Kartika from the women’s team played football with the kids. Children were thrilled to meet them and at the same time got inspired by them.

Former Indian women’s footballer, Sradhanjali Samantaray said, “Sports does not discriminate. It brings communities together. We should allow children to have fun so that they can fall in love with sports and bring laurel to the country.”

Gracing the closing ceremony, Pritiranjan Gharai, Minister of State, Skill Development & Technical Education said, “Government is creating opportunity and best infrastructure to develop sports in the state. This kind of event will encourage the children”.

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