Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), with a view to shape the future of the less privileged youth of the country, has associated with Slum Soccer to sponsor the ‘SPN National Inclusion Cup 2019’ for the third time in a row. This is the only national football tournament of its kind for underprivileged youth, which took place from 13th February to 17thFebruary 2019 at the Mohammed Hussain Sports Ground, Mumbai. The National Inclusion Cup kick started its first edition with Sony Pictures Networks in February 2017 which saw participation of 40 teams (24 men and 16 women) from different states of India and a team from Nepal. The second year witnessed participation of over 50 teams including two teams from Nepal, covering a base of ~500 youth. This year,48teams from different states of India joined the tournament to compete against each other and there were 4 international teams from Nepal and Bangladesh. The Women’s team from Mumbai and the Men’s team from Sikkim emerged as the winners of the finale, which was held at Cooperage Ground in Mumbai.
Ace footballers like Ashley Westwood, Terry Phelan and Steven Dias were present on various days of the tournament to motivate the teams. The teams participating this year were from the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Jharkhand, Vidharbha, Kerala, Assam, Telangana, Meghalaya, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Sikkim, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan including teams from Nepal and Bangladesh. Similar to the last two tournament editions, the extraordinary players of the Indian slum soccer teams will represent the country at the 17th Homeless World Cup in Cardiff, Wales, in 2019.Empowering India’s youth through sports is a key focus for SPN while promoting the spirit of Ek India Happywala. SPN is committed to co-creating India’s social development agenda through its focus on education, empowerment and environment. Highlights from the tournament were aired on the ‘Kick Off’ show on Sony TEN 2 and will also be available on SonyLIV. Rajkumar Bidawatka – CSR Head, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) stated that “We take immense pride in associating with Slum Soccer who share the passion and vision of empowering India’s youth.
This partnership has been an incredible opportunity which not only recognizes talent but also contributes towards nurturing India’s true potential. At SPN, our constant endeavor is to create equal opportunities for every individual in the country”. Vijay Barse, Founder, Krida Vikas Sansthan, said that “We are humbled by the response this initiative has garnered and the impact it has created. From our first National level tournament in 2003 to today in 2019, we have participated and organized several tournaments. Sony Pictures Networks India has been a rock solid support for our venture and has helped us reach new heights, for which we are grateful and thankful.”