THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The entire state responded spiritedly and overwhelmingly to the ‘One Million Goals’ campaign on Wednesday to celebrate FIFA U-17 World Cup coming to Kochi next month, with over 17 lakh people turning up to score goals against the target of 10 lakh.
Over 3,500 goal posts were set up in the 14 districts to encourage people to give it a shot. Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kannur strengthened their reputation as the home of the most ardent fans with over 8 lakh people turning up to score goals.
At 7 pm when the campaign ended, 17,34,586 people had lent their hand - or foot - to the campaign. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the event by scoring the first goal at Central Stadium. He aimed it well with all seriousness, kicking the football with his black leather loafers towards a goalpost erected at the stadium’s indoor court.
The characteristic seriousness made way for a smile when he saw the preparation of Minister for Ports Ramachandran Kadannappally. The 73-year-old Minister wore his ‘mundu’ ‘half mast’ and kicked the ball with bare feet.
Sports Minister A C Moideen sat out the programme, while Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, Ministers, MLAs, government officers, students and the general public tried their football skills in the campaign held from 3 pm to 7 pm.
The campaign was jointly organised by the Kerala State Sports Council and Directorate of Sports & Youth Affairs, in association with the District Sports Council, Education Department and Local Self Government Department.
Celebrity football matches were held later in the day at the Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium as part of the campaign. In the first match, the Chief Minister’s XI played with Speaker’s XI. The second match was played between senior officers.