Mangaluru: The much awaited, prestigious 19th Federation Cup – National Senior Athletics Championship 2015, began with a colourful procession from Lalbagh here, on April 30.

The programme began with an invocation. Deputy commissioner A B Ibrahim welcomed the gathering. A one minute silence was observed for the souls of Nepal Earthquake victims.

Addressing the gathering G Parameshwar said, “On behalf of the government of Karnataka I would like to thank Adil Suveriwala for giving us an opportunity to host the 19th federation cup in Karnataka, especially in Mangaluru”

This is the first time that the Federation Cup is being held in the district. A number of tabluex and various bands accompanied the guests, delegates and athletes in the procession.

Minister Abhaychandra Jain speaking on the occasion said that, youth should make sports a part of their life. Speaking about Mohan Alva, he said that Alva provides free education to 700 students along with free food and free accommodation. “Mohan Alva has taken special interest in promoting sports. After seeing his work, the Government spent Rs 8 crore to develop the Moodbidri ground because Mohan Alva is preparing 700 students for sports. The government is encouraging Mohan Alva to organize sports.” He also said that the state government also encourages athletes by awarding them cash prizes. “So far, Rs 11 crore cash prizes have been awarded to the athletes who have won gold, silver and bronze in the Olympics, Asian and other international games.

Addressing the gathering Minister for Health and Family Welfare U T Khader said, “When the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) gave the opportunity to host the Federation Cup in Karnataka, Abhaychandra Jain took it as a challenge and decided to host it in our own district, Mangaluru.” He further said that for one to win, another should lose; both cannot be first in the same race. He also said that to provide medical support to the athletes, an injury centre has been started.

President of AFI, Adille J Sumariwalla, said, “Karnataka, especially Mangaluru, has produced many leading athletes who have made India proud and I am honoured to be amongst you. This is the first major competition of this season and I hope that all of us will get to witness outstanding performances over the next four days, I hope to see some new talent emerge that could make an impact on the world stage. I am sure the athletes and coaches are putting in enough of hardwork like we saw in the selection camp before the Asian Athletic Championship to be held in Wuhan, China from 3rd – 7th June. This year there are two major championships, the Asian Athletic Championship and IAAF World Athletic Championship. I hope that the federation officials, coaches, support staff and athletes will work together to bring laurels to our country.”

“The AFI is committed to hold many quality competitions for athletes both at national and international levels. We are working very closely with SAI and officials in Youth Affairs in Sports to ensure that the best coaches, Indian and foreign, are available to train national candidates. AFI has made a strong programme for the national campus for the 2016 Olympics and the 2015 World Championships. We are getting tremendous support from the Union government. I am pleased to say that for the first time our athletes have been selected for special funding under the National Sports Development Fund scheme, which is the top scheme for training athletes. Our race walker team is already in Portugal for a multi-pace training, some of them have also qualified for the Olympics. In the coming days, we will be sending more athletes for foreign training and competitions.”

He also requested all the athletes to refrain from using any forbidden substance as it can not only spoil their health and career, but also damage the country’s reputation. He hoped that the selected athletes will strive to excel at the world championships in 2015 and 2016. He also thanked the Government of Karnataka, especially the Chief Minister, Sports Minister, Forest Minister, the district administration of Mangaluru, all the sponsors and the spectators for supporting the Federation Cup. He wished the best to the participants and the officials and concluded saying, “Please play hard, but please play fair.”

Speaking on the occasion, Bollywood star Suniel Shetty said, “I am the son of this soil. I was born here in a little place called Mulki, near Bappanadu Temple. It is a very, very, very proud day for all of us. I hope history repeats itself and a national championship is held here again.”

He thanked the Sports Minister Jain, saying that “Anna” has always worked towards the people of Mangaluru. “I think it is his and his entire team’s effort that it has been possible to have such a wonderful event being held here. We are also very fortunate because during the end of May, the tourism pro-active government has promised a surfing festival in Mangaluru. This is again a new page in history for us.”

He wished the athletes and said, “The more you pamper your body, the more worse it becomes. The more you demand from your body, the better it becomes. I owe my entire career to a sport called martial arts, and I’m here only because of that.”

“Pray as though everything depends on God, but train as though everything depends on you,” he added.

MLA J R Lobo delivered the vote of thanks. Manohar Prasad compered the programme. Minister for Urban Development Vinay Kumar Sorake; MLA Moideen Bava; Mayor Jacintha Alfred; Police Commissioner S Murugan; SP Dr Sharanappa; MLA Shakuntala Shetty; MCC commissioner Hephsiba Rani; ZP CEO Sreevidhya; Vice Chancellor Mangaluru University Prof Byrappa; Nivedith Alva; Ibrahim Kodijal; MLC Ivan D’Souza and others were also present.

Courtesy : Manglorean