Kolkata: Tennis stalwart Leander Paes livened up a dull and rain-soaked opening of the fifth edition of the I-League football tournament that was officially kicked off with city giant East Bengal taking on Churchill Brothers.

Paes, who has been roped in by the All India Football Federation as its new brand ambassador, came at the interval of East Bengal and Churchill Brothers match as he shook hands with players and officials.

The local star also gave enough photo opportunity as he demonstrated his skills in football with a bit of juggling with Churchill player Roberto 'Beto' Silva that entertained the crowd.

Earlier, a musical opening ceremony planned by the AIFF in a first of its kind had to be cut short with a downpour playing spoilsport at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

But that did not deter the frenzied East Bengal supporters as they gathered in about more than 5,000 in numbers to support the last year runners-up team's opening encounter against the Goan heavyweights.

About 50-odd 'dhakis' (drummers) gave a performance making a round of the stadium which was followed by TV artist Mir's live rock band performance.

Singer Nachiketa, who was the star attraction of the opening ceremony, followed next but his performance had to be stopped midway due to rain.

However, the floodlit match began on time on the artificial turf of the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das, vice-president Subrata Dutta were among the officials who were present on the occasion.

(Agencies)