AFC Chief re-opens hallowed Cooperage ground

Mrs. Nita Ambani (left), Founder and Chairperson, Indian Super League, and Mr. Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation and Western India Football Association applaud after AFC President, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa (2nd right) unveiled the plaque at the inauguration ceremony of the refurbished Cooperage football ground on Wednesday evening.

Mumbai, December 3: It was a historic day for Maharashtra and Mumbai as the historic, refurbished Cooperage Football Stadium was re-opened by Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, President, Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The upgrading of the Cooperage Ground, was done under FIFA’s ‘Win in India, With India” project.

Gracing the historic moment was Mrs. Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Indian Super League, and Mr. Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation.

Also present on this momentous occasion were a host former Internationals, present Footballers, FIFA Referees, Coaches, representatives from FIFA, AIFF, Clubs, Football kids and fans amongst others.

The Artificial Turf laid at the newly built sleek Cooperage Stadium been a part of the FIFA’s Goal Project.

Mr. Patel thanked FIFA for their “special interest in developing Indian Football.”

“FIFA and out AFC have contributed immensely to the rebirth of Football in our Country. India was always a great Football Playing Nation. On the occasion of the recently held 60th Anniversary of AFC, Shaikh Salman honoured India as one of the 12 founding members of the AFC,” Mr. Patel mentioned.

“This ground has a history of over 127 years,” he said referring to the Cooperage. “This ground was in existence prior to all settling down. There is no reason as to why there should be a stoppage in the growth of Football,” he added. “FIFA has spent over 2 million USD to get this Stadium ready. I urge all to support the cause of Football in the City and in the Country.”

Shaikh Salman mentioned about the history of the Cooperage Stadium. “It is a great honour for me to be here standing on this Football ground. I know that India has a lot to contribute for the game and under the leadership of Mr. Praful Patel, AIFF has been targeting the right areas to promote and boost the Sport in India and the Asian Football Confederation will be continuing to support them,” he said.

“AFC and FIFA are confident that the successful hosting of 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be further boosting the development of Football in the Country,” he added.

A “nostalgic” Mrs. Ambani mentioned about her personal connect with the Cooperage.

“It was on this ground that Mukesh (Mr. Mukesh Ambani) and I got married. After that, we have come here many times to watch Mohun Bagan play East Bengal,” she recollected.

“This is a wonderful Stadium. This Stadium has been the Ambassador for Mumbai Football and has been synonymous with Mumbai’s Football. My heartiest congratulations to WIFA and Mr. Praful Patel,” she stated.

Former Indian National Team Players, a host of Referees and Coaches were also felicitated on the occasion.

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