The opening ceremony of Hindustan Times Great Indian Football Action 2016 held at Thyagaraj Stadium on 24th September was a night full of music, dance, Bollywood and great performances led by superstar Akshay Kumar.
Akshay made a grand entrance on stage to a power-packed audience of 5000 people, comprising of players of the HT GIFA tournament, their parents, coaches and other special guests. Akshay shook a leg with a group of salsa dancers from The Dance Club India to everyone’s delight, post which he talked about the importance of sports development in India. Akshay had an interaction with players from the Delhi Dynamos football club onstage. He spoke to Toni Doblas, Kean Lewis, Souvik Chakraborty and Arjun Tudu about their journey and challenges they faced to becoming professional footballers. He made an appeal to parents to support their children’s desire to play sports at an international level.
He engaged with the audience by kicking footballs into the crowd and the lucky ones who caught the ball got a chance to come on stage for a photo with Akshay. In his next segment, he called 3 girls from the audience to play the Dizzy Ball Challenge where each girl had to encircle around a football 15 times before shooting the ball into goalposts set up on stage. The winners of both segments received a cash prize from Akshay.
The night was not only about fun and games as Akshay brought to light an important topic as he condemned the recent attacks in Uri and there was a one-minute silence for the victims.
Other highlights of the night were popular TV personality Hussain who held the audience’s attention throughout the night as host, and entertainment acts by Astitva, Sumit Sethi and The Dance Club India.
Indian band Astitva electrified the audience with their high-energy music as they belted out popular tracks related to sports as well as patriotic songs like Vande Mataram where they had the whole stadium up on their feet singing along with them. DJ and composer Sumit Sethi played a magical rendition of A.R.Rahman’s Jai Ho with violins and dhol, which gave the audience goosebumps. The dance group The Dance Club India enthralled the crowd with a fantastic salsa routine to Waka Waka among other songs.
The grand night came to a close with the GIFA Trophy being unveiled by Akshay and other guests onstage. It was truly a memorable night, enjoyed by audiences and performers alike. And with this, the GIFA matches kick off this weekend.