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Sports


Mamata inaugurates East Bengal's centenary celebration

Mamata inaugurates East Bengal's centenary celebration

Kolkata, Aug 1 (UNI) Kolkata football giant East Bengal on Thursday officially started

the centenary celebration on its foundation day with a glittering ceremony by honouring

the cricket legend along with fellow sporting icons.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the centenary year

celebrations at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here this evening.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Banerjee said, East Bengal Club turns 100 and

touches a new milestone.

Journeying through long, long years ever since July 1920, the East Bengal Club

is now celebrating its centenary, she said.

The chief minister said the red and gold colour of East Bengal has been a passion

among millions of followers over generations and has been a pride of Bengal and the

entire country.

Legendary personalities and outstanding footballers have been associated with the

club over these long years and have contributed remarkably to winning innumerable

trophies and laurels for the club and great honour for the football-loving community,

Ms Banerjee said.

She said it is indeed a moment of nostalgia, something to cherish with love, joy and

passion for every East Bengal fan.

“On this auspicious occasion, I congratulate each and every member, fan, follower

and lover of East Bengal Club and extend my heartiest greetings to all of them,” the

chief minister said.

“I was very happy to attend the inauguration of East Bengal Club's centenary

celebrations today. May East Bengal Club continue its glorious journey ahead and

bring more and more honours for our entire country,” Ms Banerjee added.

India's three iconic sporting legends were present at East Bengal's centenary

celebration.

India 's maiden cricket World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev along with Bhaichung

Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri graced the auspicious centenary celebrations of East Bengal.

The Kolkata giants invited the cricket legend on their 100th foundation day to confer

him with the club's highest honour Bharat Gaurav award.

Speaking on East Bengal's centenary year, Kapil Dev said, "I can understand upto

one level that players are important but a hundred years for the fans is a huge moment.

The media is also so much involved. It is a great occasion indeed."

For Kapil, it was a platform to revisit that wonderful day in June 1992 when he signed

a contract to play some exhibition matches for East Bengal. He had then said that the

sole purpose of him playing football was to promote the sport. He was saddened at the

fall in the standard of the game. The situation has not changed much in 37 years.

The fans in Kolkata are passionate about sports, cricket and football the most. They

understand the game and come to cheer the players in all conditions. That’s what I like

the most. You might think it is raining and people would remain indoor but the stadium

would be packed,” Kapil said.

The former Indian Cricket skipper revealed that he used to support the Brazil football

team.

"Kolkata is known for football. Goa has also produced some very good footballers.

I used to follow Brazil most of the time. I always follow the team and not individual

players. We should always follow the team, that should give you more happiness," he

added.

East Bengal legend Bhaichung Bhutia said, "It is an iconic day for the club. Not many

clubs around the world reach a hundred years. East Bengal has been one club that has

produced cricket, football and hockey players.

"The club has survived a hundred years because of the fans. My message to fans is

to keep supporting East Bengal."

Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri who had played for East Bengal just once in the

2008-09 season suggested that it was an honour for him to be at this occasion alongside

Bhutia and Kapil Dev.

Chhetri said, "They are the ones why we started playing sports. Honoured sitting with

legends like Kapil Dev and Bhaichung Bhutia."

UNI BM SJC

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