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If the glittering and dramatic evening of December 10 is any indication, the Lusofonia Games 2014 will surely light up the skies and the fortunes of athletes who participate in it. 

The Sports Authority of Goa grounds along the river Mandovi, in the picturesque capital city, Panaji, was the venue for an evening of celebration with music, dance, cultural performances and a spectacular light and sound show and of course the unveiling of the official mascot ‘Jojo – the Rooster’ for Goa’s biggest sporting event yet.

Present to witness the spectacle were the Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza, Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar, Chef-de-Missions of the participating countries, ACOLOP members, state officials, sportspersons, and other dignitaries.

Also present were the Indian sporting champions of the past and the present: Padmashree Milkha Singh and ace tennis star Sania Mirza.

The dynamic Jojo represents everything essentially Goan, essentially a positive attitude, panache and awareness of a global citizen, a fierce competitor with a true spirit of sportsmanship. Although officially unveiled on Tuesday, Jojo and what all he epitomizes, has been an integral part of Goa’s timeless history.

The Rooster, as a physical representation is very popular in Goa; mostly found in moulded clay form as water storage vessels, majestic statuettes on rooftops and on gateposts and its colourful cutouts are often paraded at carnivals, festivals, etc. Roosters even find a mention in popular Goan folk songs.

The unveiling of the official torch of the Games at the hands of Padmashree Milka Singh was a matter of no less importance as it was the opportunity for the audience to witness the great athlete who has made India proud.

The torch, that was designed to closely resemble a shell, also reflects Goa’s sea-faring, coastal DNA and its Lusophone past, given that Portuguese colonials arrived at Goa’s fair coast by way of sea as well.

Talking about the mega sporting event, Mr. Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister, Government of Goa and Chairman, Lusofonia Games said”: “Goa is looking forward to the Lusofonia Games. The Games will be held on a grand scale just as the launch event has portrayed. Goa is looking forward to Lusofonia 2014.”

Added Mr. Ramesh Tawadkar, Sports Minister, Government of Goa: “The Games are about passion and competitive spirit. Goa is gearing up to host this international sporting event on a grand scale next month. This is going to be best sporting event ever held in the state.”

Said Padmashree Milkha Singh on being a part of theLusofonia Games launch event in Goa: “I am externally honoured that the government of Goa has invited me for this impressive launch event of the Lusofonia Games. I’m passionate about sport and am always willing to do anything it takes to promote sports. An international sporting event of this stature is sure to give a much needed boost to athletes from various sporting disciplines and will lead to the development of sporting talent”.

Added India’s ace tennis player Sania Mirza: “Events like the Lusofonia Games are important as they help in showcasing Indian players who are good at different sports. It also helps build sportsmanship and forge better relations with countries. It’s exciting that the Lusofonia Games are being held in Goa.

Mr. Keshav Chandra, CEO, Lusofonia Games said: “This spectacular launch is a fitting precursor to the international sporting event. Goa is gearing up to host athletes from the participating countries and we look forward to hosting this exciting event.

People present at the Lusofonia Games launch event were later treated to a spectacular series of performances that embodied the theme of the games, aptly titled, ‘Panchatattva’.

With a team of over 2000 people, including various artists, students and other volunteers, involved in its creation and execution, the result was a mesmerizing event. The celebration of the five elements of nature – Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Ether (Agni – Jal – Vayo –Prithvi – Aakash), comprised of segments dedicated to every element of the cosmos, through various art forms including dance, intricate display work and music. Some of the performances included troupes led by Fr. Cardozo, Kalangan, Lalan Desai and Mahesh Gawade.  The event was hosted by Tisca Chopra, Charu Sharma and Siddhi Upadhye.

Music itself was a critical part of the evening. For the first time in their respective illustrious careers, Goa’s best known female music artists, Sonia Shirsat and Lorna, came together on stage to perform the official multilingual Games song, composed by Goan musician Mukesh Ghatwal.

Sonia Shirsat is a contemporary artist and household name, given that she has modernized and revolutionized the Fado, a staple in Portuguese traditional music. With several international collaborations under her belt, Shirsat is no stranger to incorporating various languages to make beautiful music.

Lorna, who accompanied her, has been immortalized in Goan contemporary folklore. Having started out as merely a Jazz vocalist that would tour the country with a band that performed cover, Lorna returned to her roots and made people sit up and take notice of the genre of Konkani folk and pop music. Her song ‘Bebdo’,shot to even further fame when it was adapted and used as a background score in a Nike advertising jingle.

The Games’ song which was composed by Goan musician Mukesh Ghatwal and penned by St Andre MLA Vishnu Wagh in the languages of Konkani, Portuguese, Marathi, Hindi and English thrilled the audience when it was sung by Goa’s nightingales, Sonia and Lorna.

The 3rd Lusofonia Games will be held over the period of 12 days from 18th to 29th January 2014 and will see participation from over 1500 athletes and officials from 12  nations. Participating countries are founding members Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Goa (India), Macau (China), Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Sri Lanka.

Athletes from 12 nations will compete in 9 different sporting disciplines – Athletics, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Football, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Volleyball and Wushu. 

The Lusofonia Games are among the largest and the most prestigious multinational, multi-sport games in the world organized by ACOLOP (Associação dos Comités Olímpicos de Língua Oficial Portugues), which involves athletes coming fromLusophone (Portuguese-speaking) countries, namely those belonging to the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries), but also others where there are significant Portuguese communities or that have a common past with Portugal. The ACOLOP is a non-governmental organisation consisting of 12 members, whose main purpose is to strengthen the unity and cooperation of its members, through Sport.