Kolkata: Urging to make learning of martial arts compulsory at schools, popular Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar today regretted that this form of self defence came last in priority in the country.
"In a country where cricket is the most popular sport, martial arts unfortunately comes last in priority. The most essential thing in India is discipline. We require it. If every school makes martial arts compulsory, it would be the best thing India can do," the Khiladi star said.
"I`m always up for sports. Not politics or anything but sports. I run India`s biggest tournaments for martial arts," Akshay, who came to the city along with new sensation Sonakshi Sinha in connection with East Bengal club`s pre-centenary show tomorrow at Salt Lake, said.
He said he would love to promote sports in the city.
"It`s just the beginning. If I get an offer, I`m never behind supporting sports. I`ve so many martial tournaments back in Mumbai. Many black belt players from all over come there to compete. I`ll be more than happy to do anything for sports," he said.
Akshya and Sonakshi were earlier given life memberships at the club tent.
A self-confessed Manchester United fan, Akshya Kumar further said he would root for hosts Brazil in the next year`s World Cup.
"I follow all the teams, but I follow Man U the most. I am supporter of Man U."
Hailing the city`s sports culture, Akshay said Kolkata is his favourite city.
"It`s the city of sports. I`ve been to many cities around the world and India but I`ve never seen a city like Kolkata where people love sports so much. That`s one reason why I love Kolkata the most..."
Personally also, the city had been special to Akshay Kumar, the actor revealed.
"I've learnt a lot from here, having spent three important years of my life here. If it was not for Kolkata, I would have been struggling somewhere else," he said recollecting about his first break in the early 1990s.
During his childhood days, Akshay Kumar said he was a goalkeeper.
"I follow football... I used to be a goalkeeper in my school days. But I call myself a sportsperson," he said.
"I played football actually in Kolkata with our Dada, Mithun Chakraborty in 1994."
Overwhelmed by East Bengal's gesture, Akshay said: "It's a very very big honour for me to get a life membership from East Bengal."
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly too joined in East Bengal's pre-centenary celebrations, titled Starnite, that will begin at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan at 5.30pm tomorrow.
Asked to comment on Aamir Khan-starrer Dhoom 3, the Bollywood actor in a lighter vein said: "It will not be more popular than East Bengal club."