The West Bengal labour department in association with the Indian Football Association (IFA) has decided to organise a Tea Gold Club, an exclusive football tournament where only tea garden workers can participate.
Becharam Manna, state labour minister, said: “There are number of talented footballers in tea gardens but they don’t get an opportunity to prove themselves and this is why we have decided to organise a Tea Gold Cup .”
Manna’s party, Trinamul, Congress, has not been able to make major inroads into the tea garden belt of north Bengal.
The tournament will be held in February and March.
According to labour department sources, the tea belt in north Bengal will be divided into four zones, Siliguri, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar for the tournament.
A source said a meeting was recently held in Calcutta among labour department, tea associations and the IFA to discuss the tournament.
. “It has been decided that IFA coaches and talent spotters would be actively involved in the tournament,” said the source.
Football players from different gardens will have to register themselves in respective zones following which IFA coaches and selectors will form four teams in each zone.
After the zonal games, the semi final and final is likely to be held in Lebong, Darjeeling. “The winning team will be given Rs 1 lakh while the runners up will receive Rs 75,000,” said a source. The total budget of the tournament is pegged at Rs 25 lakhs.