The revered FIFA World Cup Trophy which is on an exposition tour before the big event in June of this year, is scheduled to arrive in the island on the 23rd of January and will remain in Sri Lanka till 24th January evening. 1500 lucky fans will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to view the prestigious trophy in person.
A media conference was held today at the Sports Ministry auditorium in this regard in the presence of Minister of Sports Hon. Dayasiri Jayasekara, Minister of Tourism Hon. John Amarathunga, President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) Mr. Anura de Silva and Vice-President South West Asia operations of Coca-Cola Mr. Debabrata Mukherjee and other delegates.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Anura de Silva stated, “The FIFA World Cup is the highest reward in the world for any footballer and hosting this most symbolic trophy in this Country for the first time is an amazing experience” while Hon. Dayasiri Jayasekara added “It is a great privilege and pride that the FIFA World Cup trophy is arriving to Sri Lanka and the people of Sri Lanka are honoured by this opportunity.”
Going on to speak about the current situation of Footballing in the country and how this Trophy tour could help develop Football, Mr de Silva said, “This is a golden opportunity for FFSL, as well as the public, football players, coaches, and all administration involved in football to together with the FFSL and take the game to the next level in Sri Lanka.”
“We all know we have a lot to do for football in Sri Lanka. We take this as our responsibility and challenge. With this opportunity, the FIFA World Cup Trophy coming to Sri Lanka we can bring out the passion and help develop the sport.”
The Sports Minister took the opportunity to speak on a new development plan called ‘Football Vision 2030’, “Football is one of the most played sports in Sri Lanka and is played in all corners of the country. It is time for us to take this game to the next level. We see this opportunity to make a difference in football and have decided to launch a strategic plan under the name “Football Vision 2030”. We now have clear ideas and ambitions where our football must be in the year 2030. This ‘vision 2030’ plan covers many areas such as grassroot football, youth football, school football, club competitions and national football. We will share more details after the 24th of January when H.E. the President and honourable Prime Minister launch the Vision programme.”
Mr. Mukherjee, gave a passionate speech at the event as well, saying, “They say more powerful than a march of a thousand armies is an idea whose time has come. The idea of football in Sri Lanka is an idea whose time has come.”
He then went onto share a story from a previous FIFA World Cup Trophy tour. “An incident in a previous trophy tour which deeply touched me; a very famous Brazilian footballer who unfortunately passed away last year Carlos Alberto, the captain of the 1970 FIFA World Cup winning team which had the great Pelé and was the third time Brazil won the World cup. I asked him (Alberto) about when he scored the fourth goal when Brazil beat Italy 4-1. Let me take you to Mexico City 48 years ago, Pelé passes the ball to an advancing Carlos Alberto and I asked, ‘Sir what was going on in your mind when the ball was passed to you’. He said, ‘I had cut everything from my mind friend, there were no other players on the ground, no spectators, my only focus was the goal’, and that goal, the fourth goal scored by Carlos Alberto has gone down as one of the best world cup goals ever.”
Mr. Mukherjee went onto explain, “I’m telling you this because I truly believe to rise as a Footballing Nation there’ll be a lot of people who say we can’t get there, but if we truly believe in the goal, cutting out everything else, then Sri Lanka can rise as a premium footballing power in the world, and we at Coca Cola would love to be on that journey with you and are very excited to bring this trophy to you and we hope to see you all there”