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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MP Ajoy plays ball for villages

A rural Ronaldo or Ronaldinho is less likely to take up a gun or gulp down liquor.

Jamshedpur MP Ajoy Kumar, who is hoping that football will bridge the village-state divide and give village youths a positive goal, is using a portion of MP local area development fund for his ambitious panchayat soccer scheme.

The first-time MP declared earlier this month that he would set up football clubs under Panchayat Yuva Krida Evam Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) — the first such initiative anywhere in the state.

For now, it will start at 100 out of 232 East Singhbhum district panchayats. The MP’s local representative Shashi Bhushan told The Telegraph that they would install football infrastructure at 100 panchayats by March 31.

“In the first phase, we will install two goalposts made of steel pipes and nets at all 100 panchayat grounds. Relevant zilla parishad, which executes PYKKA, will help constitute panchayat clubs. We will also contribute 15 jerseys and two footballs at each panchayat from the MP fund,” Bhushan said, putting the cost at each venue at Rs 24,000.

Kumar — erstwhile doctor, IPS and corporate executive — who has also played for Pondicherry in the 1983 Durand Cup and for Tamil Nadu in the 1984 Santosh Trophy, is backing the humble football as a change-agent with big money.

The quantum of investment in the first phase itself is Rs 24 lakh.

In the second phase, goalposts will be installed at the rest of the 132 district panchayats.

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