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News18 » Videos » News18 Shorts

Soccer fever takes over Naxal-hit Lalgarh

Jun 27, 2011 09:32 AM IST India India

Kolkata: Lalgarh has been mostly in the news for all the violence in the area, but the place now has 25 young boys with dreams of being soccer stars.

Team Junglemahal is a squad of 25 youngsters from maoist-hit areas of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore converging in Lalgarh, that was once known as a Maoist killing field.

But today 18-year-old Debashish and his friends want to put the past behind them as they live their dream of taking on Team Bengal.

"Everyday I think I will die, it's a daily battle. I want to become a goalkeeper. I know it's difficult but I am not afraid," said a fotball player Debashish.

Another football player Dasrath Singh said, "We have so much potential, but there is no training facility."

All of Lalgarh has been cheering them on enjoying a simple game of soccer. But that's not all. For three years, 15-year-old Rimpa and her friends dreaded going to school because of the shadow of naxalism but not anymore as a prominent college is opening a branch in Lalgarh.

"We were very scared. Our studies used to be affected so badly as schools used to be shut for months," said Rimpa.

Solving the Maoist problem was one of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata's Banerjee's first promises. But with no hint of dialogue on either side, the focus is now development.

West Bengal Sports Minister Madan Mitra said, "We need to bring these people out into the mainstream and make them feel at one with the state."

A feel-good football match, a special financial package and a promise of world class education, Junglemahal is Mamata Banerjee's first priority as she knows that peace can only be ushered in through development, but for now the people in Lalgarh are only too happy to get their smile back.