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Police soccer tourney treat

A national-level soccer tournament starting next week has created excitement among the otherwise cricket-crazy people of the state.

Adding glamour to the 61st BN Mullik All India Police Football Championship, former Team India skipper Bhaichung Bhutia has agreed to be present during its closing ceremony at Moinul Haque Stadium, Patna, on December 21.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar would inaugurate the championship — being held in Bihar after 22 years — beginning December 12. “Both the inaugural and closing ceremonies would be held at Moin-ul Haque Stadium,” said tournament organising secretary S. Raveendran, the deputy inspector-general (human rights and legal affairs).

He said Bhaichung had given his consent to attend the valedictory function. In addition, directors-general of different central police organisations and state police forces are likely to attend the ceremony. Till date, 30 teams of various central police organisations and state police forces have confirmed their participation. The league matches would be played in Patna, Gaya, Munger and Bettiah (West Champaran). While the four districts have been allotted two matches each, Moinul Haque Stadium will host ties quarter-final onwards.

Officials said the decision to organise league matches outside Patna was taken in the wake of interest of the people in sports. In Gaya, preparations are in the final stage. “We hope to get the ground work done at Harihar Stadium and police lines before the deadline,” said Gaya senior superintendent of police Vinay Kumar, the organising secretary of the league matches in Gaya. The league matches would be played at the polo ground in Munger and railway stadium in Jamalpur. In Bettiah, the committee has decided to organise matches at Maharaja Stadium and Bettiah police lines. Gaya district football association secretary Khatib-ur Rab said a national-level football match would be held in the town after 24 years. Raveendran said the state government had allocated Rs 50 lakh for the championship.