Kolkata, Oct 3 (IANS) Young talents showcased their dribbling prowess, performed breathtaking juggling with footballs, and photos of football legends were proudly displayed as the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup featured in a big way during the Kolkata Durga puja immersion carnival here on Tuesday.
The tournament, that already seems to have found a place in the hearts of the football mad people of the metropolis, kicks off on Friday, with the city hosting its first match two days later.
Adding to the football fervour, officials and players of the participating England and Chile teams were present for much of the three-hour carnival on the iconic Indira Gandhi Sarani (erstwhile Red Road), watched by thousands lining up along both sides of the street and millions on television.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was present all through the carnival, where 68 prize winning community Durga puja committees participated.
The visiting players and officials clicked selfies and captured video and images on their mobiles as they seemed awe-struck at the colourful procession of the idols and the small replicas of the grand and marquees.
Kalighat Milan Sangha community puja committee brought out a tableau bearing the Indian national flag with teenagers busy presenting their ball juggling and soccer skills.
Hockey legend Gurbux Singh was seen taking part in the procession carrying a replica of the Olympic torch.
A giant size football was part of the march of Dum Dum Tarun Dal, while the College Square Community puja committee showered confetti and included youngsters showing their magical ball control on the road.
Adi Ballygunge community puja committee hailed world football’s governing body FIFA and the upcoming tournament, with ball jugglers drawing allround applause.
Hatibagan Sarbojonin puja committee tableau showcased the under-17 World Cup and its mascot — a clouded leopard called Kheleo.
Not to be left behind, the Ultadanga Pallishree processionists carried huge photos of fotball legends Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, with women participants seemingly engrossed in football.
A young boy seemed a picture of grace in the Bosepukur Shitala Mandir community puja committee parade as he carried a big football.