The 132nd edition of Durand Cup kicked off in Kokrajhar, Assam on August 05, 2023. Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh graced the opening ceremony, which marked the grand beginning of the annual football competition for the first time in the Assamese city. The tournament is organised by the Armed Forces and supported by the Government of Assam.
Addressing the enthusiastic crowd at the Sai Stadium, the Raksha Mantri complimented the efforts of the Armed Forces and Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) for creating a positive environment in Kokrajhar which resulted in the event being organised in the city for the first time. He commended the people of the Northeast for their excitement and love for football, terming ‘the beautiful game’ as not just a sport, but an emotion. Stating that Assam has produced many football talents in recent times, Shri Rajnath Singh exuded confidence that the Durand Cup will encourage the youth to join the sport with renewed vigour.
Assam Chief Minister Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma spoke at length about the rich sports culture of the region and extended his best wishes to all participating teams. He thanked the Indian Army for organising the tournament in Kokrajhar and appreciated the efforts of BTC for its assistance.
The opening ceremony was witnessed by nearly 12,000 football fans from across the state and the region. Main attractions of the ceremony included a flypast by Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft and Mi-17 helicopter, martial displays, Gatka and Bhangra along with the display of Bodo cultural dance by the local troupe.
Minister of Power, Sports and Youth Welfare, Cooperation & ITFC (Archaeology), Assam Smt Nandita Gorlosa; Minister of Handloom & Textile, Soil Conservation & Welfare of Bodoland Shri Urkhao Gwra Brahma; Chief Executive Member, BTC Shri Pramod Boro; Chief of the Army Staff Gen Manoj Pande; GOC-in-C Eastern Command Lt Gen RP Kalita; AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command Air Marshal SP Dharkar; General Officer Commanding, Gajraj Corps Lt Gen Manish Erry; General Officer Commanding, Red Horns Division Maj Gen S Murugesan and President, All India Football Federation Shri Kalyan Chaubey were among those present on the occasion.
The inaugural ceremony was followed by the opening match of the tournament between Bodoland FC and Rajasthan United FC. Kokrajhar will witness eight group matches and one quarter-final to be played on August 24, 2023. A total of 24 teams, including two foreign teams from Nepal and Bangladesh, all three teams of Indian Armed Forces and the local team of Bodoland FC will clash at three venues in Kolkata, Guwahati and Kokrajhar during the tournament.