Soccer mania grips fishermen in Andhra Pradesh

Sunday, June 13, 2010

VISAKHAPATNAM - As the soccer World Cup kicked off in South Africa, young fishermen in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam are zealously celebrating the game by organizing a local soccer tournament for the last two days.

Thirty-two teams from as many villages have been registered for the local tournament here.

Each match is held at the fishing harbour near the villages.

The matches will follow the World Cup’s timeline.

Though India did not qualify for the World Cup, this has not dampened the spirit of soccer-lovers, who turn up in droves for the tournament.

“Since India has not qualified for the World Cup, we are encouraging other teams by playing in this tournament. But if India had qualified, it would have been much better,” said Rajesh, a fisherman playing in the soccer tournament.

“We are conducting a tournament here in Jalaripeta. The national team will also participate here, and we are hoping that India qualifies next time,” he added.

Football is slowly taking off in cricket-mad India and the World Cup is set to give the game a boost in the country which has a 1.1 billion strong population.

India, ranked 133rd in the world, has never come close to qualifying for the World Cup, but that does not seem to have dampened fans’ enthusiasm for the month-long tournament.

The event will see 32 countries fighting it out for the title of World Champions.(ANI)

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