More than 1000 kids from schools across Odisha participated in the Mission XI Million football festival in the city’s Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday.

Footballer Shradhanjali Samantray, former captain of the India women’s national football team, kicked off the event which had kids participating in small sided games, fun activities and skills workshops throughout the day.The morning heat couldn’t deter the kids.

Also present on the occasion were state sports minister Chandra Sarathi Behera and sports secretary Vishal Kumar Dev.

Behera remarked, “Football is a popular sport in the country and much loved in the state of Odisha. The interest that Mission XI Million programme has generated has been outstanding so far.”

Joy Bhattacharjya, project director of local organising committee, 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, said, “The dream that we had set out on, that of reaching out to 11 million kids in the country with the beautiful game, slowly seems to be coming true.”

Mission XI Million, the school contact programme, will reach Guwahati and Lucknow later this month.