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Sony Pictures Network sponsors second edition of National Inclusion Cup


 It is the only national football tournament of its kind for underprivileged youth.

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) is proud to be sponsoring the 2nd edition of the National Inclusion Cup (NIC), which is the only national football tournament of its kind for underprivileged youth. The NIC is being held from 20th-23rd Feb’18 at Tiger Play, Lokhandwala, Mumbai and is organised in partnership with the NGO, Krida Vikas Sanstha (Slum Soccer).

The first edition of the NIC in Feb 2017, saw participation of 40 teams (24 men and 16 women) from different states of India and a team from Nepal.  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.

This year the number of teams have 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.

Teams from the following states are participating this year:  Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Vidharbha, Orissa, Gujarat, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Punjab, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, Bihar, Rajasthan as well as Nepal.

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. 

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.

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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’.

Former England goalkeeper David James gave a pleasant surprise to the young participants of The National Inclusion Cup 2018 by showing up at the tournament to encourage and motivate the youth. The event has 48 teams participating from 24 different states and it includes two teams from Nepal.

The custodian who made over 50 appearances for England, visited the ongoing tournament and shared his experiences with the youth. The 47-year old was thoroughly impressed with the talent he saw there. “I have been involved with similar organisations in England and have donated loads of kits to charity to help the homeless football players there. These organisations do exactly what Slum Soccer is doing here to represent the country at Homeless World Cup,” said James. 

“I think football is such a tool for peace, for uniting people, and the (Homeless) World Cup can be an aim or target but what happens at the grassroots, to the people who don’t make it there is what these organisations are defined by. Those who don’t make it to Homeless World Cup would have improved socially, made personal development, added more vocational skills which they wouldn’t be getting if football wasn’t involved,” explained James. “So when I came down I wasn’t sure of what I was going to see but I am thoroughly impressed with the organisation and the enjoyment of the players,” said James of his first experience of Slum Soccer.

The four-day tournament, being held in Mumbai for second consecutive year, commenced on February 20, 2018 with teams from Gujarat, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Assam, Manipur & Nepal.

Published: Thu Feb 22, 2018 01:17 PM IST


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