Countering Maoist lure with soccer


Prime VIP
Kolkata, June 27

A talented young footballer from West Bengal's Maoist-hit West Midnapore district may soon find himself in Germany, training with the famed Bayern Munich club, thanks to a police initiative to lure away the youth of the area from the rebels.

The lucky youngster would be chosen from among tribal teams set to represent various rebel-affected areas in a club-level soccer tourney at Lalgarh next month. The tournament's best player would be sent to Bayern Munich, with the state police bearing the entire cost, said Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh.

The decision was taken to dissuade the youth from falling prey to the Maoists' attempts to induct them in their militant wing - the Peoples' Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA). Unemployed youth are getting drawn to the rebels not for any ideological reasons, but for the monthly Rs 3,000 offered to them, Singh said.

"The tournament will begin sometime next month with eight local clubs participating. The tournament's best footballer will be sent to Germany for training at Bayern Munich club," the police chief said.

"The Superintendent of police, West Midapore will arrange the tournament. The clubs slated to participate and the grounds for holding the matches have been identified," Singh said.

A senior police officer of West Midnapore said that last year, a football tournament was held among tribal youth in the area. A picnic for the participating teams and police personnel was also arranged after the final. The tournament was organised by the police to win the hearts of tribal youth and gain their confidence.

This year, the tournament will be organised on a bigger scale. The prize money will go up and several measures will be taken to popularise the game among the tribal youth.

The officer said intelligence reports suggest that the Maoists have initiated a recruitment drive to strengthen their militant wing after suffering recent setbacks. "They are trying to bring more local youth to their training camps. So to dissuade the youth from treading the Maoist path, the tournament will be organised in the area," said the officer. — IANS