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Football fever grips in Kolkata as FIFA U-17 World Cup kicks-off tomorrow

Kolkata, Oct 7 (UNI) After a weeklong frenzy in the City of Joy, Durga Puja is finally over and the people of Kolkata are now all set to embrace the FIFA U-17 World Cup fever which kicks-off at theVivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake stadium) tomorrow.
The tournament, that already seems to have found a place in the hearts of the football mad people of the metropolis, kicks off last night, with the city hosting its first match tomorrow here. Kolkata will play host to Group F matches of the World Cup which has teams like England, Mexico, Chile and Iraq.
The first match in the city will be played tomorrow Chile and England and after that Iraq will face Mexico. While the European side - England - will play the first match against South American outfit Chile at 1700 hours, Iraq will have an acid test against the the winners of 2005 and 2011 editions Mexico in the second match of the night at 2000 hours on the same night.
The renovated Kolkata stadium, the biggest among the six venues across India with 66,600 sitting capacity, is expected to be almost a full house with the demands of tickets were getting high on every passing hours among the teenagers and youths across the state.
Kolkata, ‘The Mecca of Indian Football’ as it is popularly known, will be hosting for the very first time in the history, the grand World Cup final. Almost 90 per cent of the tickets are sold out at the newly refurbished Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan which clearly reflects the enthusiasm among Kolkatans.
The West Bengal government has put in a lot of effort to make this event a grand success. They have renovated the stadium spending nearly a hundred crores and gave it a world class makeover. Not only the stadium, the government has made sure that the tournament gets utmost popularity so that the fans come in numbers to make it a grand success.
Yuva Bharati Krirangan acronymed as YBK is home to the city giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. Over thousands and thousands of fans have been to the world’s second largest stadium before but they are yet to view the new look YBK. Never seen before, there have been some incredible changes in the stadium.
A huge structure resembling a football will welcome the delegates at the VIP entrance. Several murals of footballers have already been installed at the main porch of the stadium. The passage leading to the dressing rooms has also got a face-lift with several art-works. The dressing room itself has gone for a complete change with new look dope testing rooms, referee rooms and room for ball boys.
Coming into the main stadium, the turf has been relaid including the synthetic track. The press conference room along with the press box and media centre has also got a huge facelift. A special room for the FIFA representatives has also been in place as the venue will be the headquarters during the event.
The state government has used a special type of paint to ensure an eco-friendly atmosphere inside the Salt Lake Stadium .
State sports minister Aroop Biswas conducted a final inspection of the entire stadium to check if things were in order ahead of the first match here.
"It is up to the spectators and all of us to maintain the stadium infrastructure and see to it that nothing is damaged," Biswas told reporters in Kolkata.
"The biggest challenge for the government is to maintain the stadium after the World Cup," Mr Biswas added. A total of 400 stewards would be on duty at the Salt Lake Stadium during the tournament matches to guide and ensure the safety and security of the spectators, a senior police official said.
Trained in soft skills, the stewards would be deployed in all the 13 blocks of the stadium, which is slated to host 10 World Cup matches including the October 28 final.
A total of 120 of the stewards would be women, Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Gyanwant Singh told media persons.
"The 400 stewards have been selected from our different units. There will be 30 or more stewards in each of the blocks. They will usher in the spectators from the gate to their seats, and look after the safety and security of the spectators," said Gyanwant Singh.
In case of any untoward incident, like if a spectator makes any racial comment, the steward would try to dissuade him politely. "If their pleas fall on deaf ears, then the police will step in to tackle the situation the hard way," he said.
Mr Singh said the police were in touch with the world football's governing body FIFA with regard to the security arrangements.
"They are the organisers of the event. So we are in regular touch with them," he said.State Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari said at least 600 buses, including 430 air-conditioned coaches, will be pressed into service for the FIFA Under-17 World cup matches.
“While the West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) will ply 480 buses of its own, it has given permits to app-cab service provider Ola for 130 buses to Salt Lake Stadium from different parts of the metropolis on match days,” Adhikari told newspersons.
"All the buses have been decked up and drivers and conductors have been imparted training for the occasion," Adhikari said adding, the buses will be used as a vehicle for branding West Bengal among the thousands of people who are expected to come to the city to see the World Cup matches. "We will run shuttle service from Ultadanga, Karunamoyee and Milan Mela, which are a few kilometres from the stadium and each of these places will act as hubs for transporting spectators to and from the venue," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has penned a promo song for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The song reflects the excitement and feelings associated with football.
The chief minister takes keen interest in the development of sports in the state and taken a number of measures, including setting up infrastructure, starting tournaments, and giving awards and monetary aids to sportspersons and clubs
The Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata will host ten matches, including the final, from October 8 to October 28.

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