Mumbai: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) has partnered with an NGO ‘Slum Soccer’ to launch The National Inclusion Cup. By supporting the national football tournament for underprivileged youth, SPN intends to extend its support for the cause of empowering India’s underprivileged youth through sports.
‘Slum Soccer’ aims to change life in the slums, where the game of football is used as a means to connect individuals, teaching life skills and working towards improving the overall quality of life for underprivileged youth. Initiated by the Slum Soccer team in 2001, The National Inclusion Cup has steadily grown over the years, with teams from all over the country competing to win the title.
Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) will support over 400 participants of the tournament, including coaches, volunteers and support staff. With SPN’s support, a soccer arena of international specifications has been imported from Scotland so that participants can practice, train and prepare for the international championship.
Bollywood actor Siddharth Malhotra has also joined the cause and will kick off the tournament. Former Homeless World Cup director Andy Hook of Street Soccer, Scotland, will be the tournament director and Anju Turambekar, Grassroots Director, All India Football Federation (AIFF), will be referee and oversee the competition.
To be held in Mumbai for the first time, the five-day football tournament will commence on February 13, 2017 at the Andheri Sports Complex. This year teams from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Vidharbha, Orissa, Gujarat, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh will participate.
This year’s tournament will see a total participation of 40 teams (24 men and 16 women teams) from India. An international men’s team from Nepal will also be part of this event.
Once the tournament in India concludes, the final selected teams comprising eight men and eight women players each will represent India at the 15th Homeless World Cup in Oslo, Norway , August 29 to September 5, 2017. The selected players will receive intensive coaching, practice and social skills training for the Homeless World Cup, where 63 nations meet every year for the World Championship.
Commenting on the initiative, NP Singh, CEO, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), said, “Sony Pictures Networks India is proud to take up initiatives of empowering India’s youth. True to its name, The National Inclusion Cup offers its participants the opportunity to engage and improve lives through one of the world’s most popular sport, football. Our long-term vision is to support more such initiatives that inspire, motivate and provide equal opportunity to our country’s young underprivileged talent. In the process, we aim to continue facilitating the spirit of ‘Ek India Happywala’, which is the theme for our CSR initiatives. I wish the participants and organisers the very best for the tournament.”
Sharing his thoughts on the same, Siddharth Malhotra said, “It is a pleasure to inaugurate The National Inclusion Cup 2017. I believe it is of paramount importance for the underprivileged youth to engage in outdoor activities and there should be equal opportunities available to them everywhere. I am pleased to support such a programme that empowers our youth and acts as a catalyst to create a better life for them.”
“Slum Soccer fosters sustainable development within the marginalised population of India, using football to bring about a change in the lives of street dwellers. We aim to provide long-term solutions to combat homelessness and improve living standards in underprivileged areas. Sports is therapeutic and we aim to give these youth hope and purpose. With the support of Sony Pictures Networks India, we will be able to increase our reach, the number of individuals we can impact as well as improve the quality of that impact. We are grateful to Sony Pictures Networks for believing in this cause of connecting individuals, teaching life skills and working towards improving the overall quality of life through football,” said Vijay Barse, Founder, Slum Soccer.