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Leander Paes a sucker for soccer

"AFTER CRICKET football is the next-big-thing in India," says tennis ace Leander Paes, who is the brand ambassador of the All India Football Federation. On a mission to promote soccer in the country, Lee talks to CS about football and fitness:

Soccer shine
Football is the sport of the future in India. With Indians taking so much interest in FIFA, and schools making efforts to promote football at grassroot levels, this sport is here to stay. In fact, some of the school teams play football that's almost at par with the professional level. Even international coaches are now coming down to India to train kids. It's a great thing!

Light on the pocket
Football isn't an expensive game at all. One doesn't need a typical ground setting, uniform or equipment to master this game. When I was learning football, I played and practised it in the bylanes and gallis of Kolkata. I salute the street football culture and want it to grow in India. All our soccer heroes played street football in their younger days. A game of soccer only needs a small lane, four bricks for goal posts and a 22-inches leather ball.

Fitness first
Football and basketball promote a child's overall development as they are agility-oriented sports.  They make for a great workout as one has to have unilateral movements, run in four directions, become excellent in diagonals because one has to dive or jump. One of my favourite forms of warm-up is juggling hacky sacks. I have learnt that from football. 

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