WORLD CUP FOOTBALL: Hills, too, get a chance to watch ball roll big

WORLD CUP FOOTBALL: Hills, too, get a chance to watch ball roll big – no more controversy over GJM flags, but problems with power outages and monsoons, give Bengal a RED CARD ?!!

Banners hung by Argentine soccer team’s fans adorn a Darjeeling street - mixing sports with political consensus, a wise idea ?!! (Photo by Suman Tamang)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, July 1: People are raising their expectation/ Go on and feed them/ This is your moment/ No hesitations – what an absurd and unrealistic logic ?!!

Lines of the Shakira’s hip swinging song for the South African World Cup seem to have inspired the Darjeeling district administration to move ahead without hesitation.

World Cup matches will be shown live on big screens in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik and in all the eight blocks in the three hill subdivisions from tomorrow.

The government had earlier announced that the game would be shown on big screens in different parts of the state but there were doubts if the people in the hills would be given such an opportunity.

An MUV decked up by a Brazil fan - means capitulation to Bengal's will, maybe not ?!! (Photo by Suman Tamang)

“There was some confusion as the government had only talked about screening in Siliguri (which is in Darjeeling district). The director of youth affairs department has, however, clarified that the confusion was because they believed the DGHC (who, what, when, where is DGHC ?!!) would be doing their bit in the hills. When we pointed out that there were no such plans by the council, the director has asked us to go ahead with the screenings,” said Sonam Bhutia, the additional district magistrate of Darjeeling.

“We have already directed the subdivisional officers and the block development officers to make the preparations. We have asked them to locate vantage points so that more people can come and experience the joy of watching the beautiful game,” said Bhutia. “In Darjeeling, we will definitely want to screen the matches at Chowrastha,” added the official.

The quarterfinals will kick off tomorrow with Brazil taking on The Netherlands at 7.30pm and Uruguay clashing with Ghana at 12pm.

Monsoon could dampen the open-air screen plans but soccer enthusiasts, who far outnumber cricket buffs in the hills, are not complaining.

“It is true that rain could be a problem but I have realised that watching a football match with family is boring. Nothing can match the atmosphere of viewing the game with so many people and I am definitely looking forward to the show,” said Mahesh Thapa, the co-ordinator of Gyanodaya Niketan.

The administration is aware of problems the rains may pose and are making preparations to organise the show at the Darjeeling municipality auditorium so that people do not have to depend on the vagaries of nature. There are plans to show the games at more than one centre in a town.

While soccer fans anywhere in the world do not like politics and sports being mixed together, the administration’s initiative has definitely raised eyebrows given the present political situation in the hills.

“This is not the first time the World Cup is being held. We also had the cricket World Cup but there were such no initiatives by the authorities. While the move is welcome, there is definitely a tinge of political posturing in the move,” said a resident.

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