UP government wants its primary school students to play football.

As part of the initiative, the government will encourage around 1.85 crore students enrolled in around 1.10 lakh primary and around 50,000 upper primary schools being run by it across the 75 districts to take up the sport with a gusto.

With memories of overwhelming response to FIFA Under-17 World Cup held recently in India still fresh, the state government has decided to promote football at the school-level.

As part of the initiative, the government will encourage around 1.85 crore students enrolled in around 1.10 lakh primary and around 50,000 upper primary schools being run by it across the 75 districts to take up the sport with a gusto.

As step one, it has decided to have under-14 teams in each government-run primary schools.

The education directorate (basic) has instructed all divisional and district level officials to ensure that at least two footballs each are made available in every school functioning under their jurisdiction on a priority.

The plan is to later select players from these school teams for district-level squads and with support of All India Football Federation (AIFF) make the state a hub of football players.

The seriousness of the state government for the mission can be gauged from the fact for the first time a state level under-14 football championship has also been planned for these students in February/March 2018 as per the guidelines of All India Football Federation.

In a missive dated December 6, additional director education (camp) Ruby Singh has ordered all divisional assistant directors of education (basic) and basic shiksha adhikaris (BSAs) of all districts to ensure that students of every school get to play football at least 2-3 days every week, said BSA-Allahabad Sanjay Kushwaha.

They have also been asked to organise frequent matches at district and divisional level to help these students improve their playing skills, he added.

The officials have been instructed to ensure that they succeed in preparing a good under-14 team at the district and the divisional level to represent them while praising their efforts in the past to promote sports and other child welfare activities in the schools.

The letter also acknowledges recent steps taken to encourage children of government primary schools to embrace sports and these have helped create a fertile environment for the task at hand.

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