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Official mascot unveiled for FIFA U-17 World Cup

New Delhi, Feb 10 : The official mascot of the U-17 football World Cup, starting October 6, was unveiled at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

In a ceremony which was attended by Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel and the chairman of the tourment’s local organising committee Praful Patel, a clouded leopard called Kheleo was introduced to the fans, according to an official release by world football governing body FIFA. The clouded leopard is a wild cat whose habitat extends from the Himalayan foothills to mainland Southeast Asia. To commemorate Kheleo’s first public appearance, Goel said: “We are sure that he will be one of the most memorable mascots a sporting event in India has ever seen.”

“Kheleo is young, vibrant, enthusiastic and a perfect representation of our country. He will help us to involve kids with football in a fun way,” he added.

Citing the official mascot as a major component of the overall event brand that will represent the tourment and the host country, Patel said: “Presenting Kheleo as the Official Mascot to the world is another big step for our event.

“As the face of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, he will be going across the country to promote the tourment and to inspire kids and adults alike.”

Earlier, Mission XI Million — a joint initiative of the Union government and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) — was flagged-off by Goel and Patel.

Mission XI Million is the biggest school sport outreach programme done in the country.

The initiative will encourage children to play football, gain healthy habits and fil motor skills and learn important life lessons in teamwork and sportsman spirit.

The approach is to work with school principals and sports teachers and encourage and incentivise them to make children play regular football games. IANS

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Ankur Kalita