Joining millions of football lovers across the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday released commemorative postage stamps on the 2014 FIFA World Cup and hoped that the international event becomes a "bridge for connecting nations".
He used the occasion to underline the need inculcating the love of sports among children within the country with his slogan "jo khele, wo hi khile" (those who play develop well).
"Sports brings about a spirit of amity and belongingness among nations of the world. May the FIFA World Cup become a bridge for connecting nations together," Modi said while releasing the stamps at his residence.
Recalling India's "glorious" history in football as it was a prominent sport across the country at one point of time, he said India too is preparing to host the Under-17 FIFA World Cup.
He urged the Department of Posts to also develop a website on the history of Indian football.
Noting that commentary especially radio commentary "probably played a key role in enhancing the popularity of cricket, the Prime Minister emphasised on developing the art of commentary in other sports as well.
Referring to the term "Sportsman Spirit", the Prime Minister referred to the toil and penance of countless sportspersons across the world, which resulted in this term getting such universal acceptance and recognition in a positive sense.
"If there is no sport, how can there be sportsman spirit in society. Sportsman spirit is a lubricant for the health of the society which is essential for it to prosper," he said.
Modi released the stamps just before the month-long FIFA World Cup in Brazil got off to a start.
The function was attended by several prominent sporting icons including K. Malleswari, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Sunil Chhetri, Sushil Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh, Chunni Goswami, Subrat Bhattacharya, and Kirti Azad.
Praful Patel, president, All India Football Federation, Anurag Thakur were also present while Communications and Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and minister of state for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal also spoke on the occasion.