Sony Pictures Networks India is sponsoring the 2nd edition of the National Inclusion Cup football, which is the only national football tournament of its kind for underprivileged youth.
The NIC is being held from 20-23 at Tiger Play, Lokhandwala, Mumbai and is organised in partnership with the NGO, Krida Vikas Sanstha (Slum Soccer).
The first edition of the NIC, which was held in February 2017, saw a participation of 40 teams (24 men and 16 women) from different states of India and a team from Nepal.
This year the number of teams has increased from 40 teams last year to 50 teams including two teams from Nepal, covering close to 500 youth. There are 8 new states added to the tournament and representation from the North East has increased. With the aim of having equal representation of women, the second edition of NIC has successfully achieved an increase in the number of women’s team from 16 to 25.
Several Youth leaders (about 12-14) who underwent another SPN supported ‘Game Changers’ program for building community leaders, are either leading some state teams or actively involved in bringing the teams together. This year the tournament is being played on two pitches in parallel, as compared to one last year.
The best performing players from the NIC were selected to represent India in the Homeless World Cup 2017, in Oslo, Norway. A portable pitch along with sidings was also imported from Scotland through SPN support to help them practice for the Homeless World Cup. Team India had their best performance ever in the tournament as the Indian women’s team ranked 7th and men’s team stood at 18th.
Teams from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha, Orissa, Gujarat, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Punjab, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, Bihar, Rajasthan as well as Nepal will compete in the four-day event.
Slum Soccer also invites entries from organizations like Ekjut, Childreach International, United women’s football, North East Indian goal, Maher, Narmada group of institution and Sportskedia to participate in the event, states an Indian Television Post report.
SPNI CHRO Smriti Krishna Singh said, “We are pleased to be providing India’s youth from less-privileged backgrounds the opportunity to improve their lives via. football & other community leadership programs. The increase in reach of the NIC and the infectious energy of nearly 500 youth from all over India is an indication that we are on the right path. We aim to continue providing them access to equal opportunities and hope to harness their energy so that they can build a better tomorrow.”
Slum Soccer founder Vijay Barse said, “It is such a proud moment for every one of us at Slum Soccer that this event is growing in size and stature with every passing year. Our mission is to spread our wings as much as possible and engage with as many youths as possible through the National Inclusion Cup. We thank Sony Pictures Networks and all our partners in giving wings to our vision and look forward to their continued support.”
Empowering India’s youth through sports is a key focus for SPN as it aims to influence the sports narrative in India through its on air and off air initiatives. Through its partnership with Slum Soccer, SPN aims to be a cornerstone of support in helping shape the lives of underprivileged youth through football. With SPN’s constant support, the Slum Soccer team has been able to encourage participation, increase reach and provide top-notch training to the participants.
SPN is committed to co-creating India’s social development agenda through its focus on education, empowerment and environment. The objective of SPNs social impact initiatives is to promote the spirit of ‘Ek India Happy Wala’.
At the conclusion of the tournament, the talent identification team will select 25 probables that will receive intensive training in football and social skills to eventually form men’s and women’s to represent India at the 16th Homeless World Cup, where over 60 nations meet every year for the World Championship.