With an aim to empower marginalized sections of the society via sports, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), under the aegis of its CSR theme ‘Ek India Happywala’ sponsored the fourth consecutive edition of ‘SPN National Inclusion Cup 2020’ in association with the FIFA awarded charitable organisation ‘Slum Soccer’. The only national football tournament of its kind for underprivileged youth was kicked off at the Miramar Beach, Goa with matches being played from February 28 to March 3, 2020.
This year, the annual championship tournament is spread over five days and will see the participation of young athletes from across India. Youth from states like Assam, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat, and Maharashtra will be participating in the unique tournament.
SPN firmly believes that the youth are the torchbearers for a better future of the country. Sport is a perfect medium that transcends race, religion, language and gender while simultaneously providing an equal platform and chance to further their dreams via fair representation of their skills at national and international levels. Out of 52 teams and 520 participants, the best performing 16 players, eight men and 8 women will be selected to represent Team India to compete against 63 nations at the 18th edition of ‘The Homeless World Cup 2020′ in Finland in June 2020.
The SPN National Inclusion Cup concept pioneered by Prof. Vijay Barse, promotes and encourages the development of sports at grassroots level by setting positive pathways for the youth and imparting life skills for community leadership. The inaugural ceremony in Goa was graced and flagged off by Brahmanand Sankhwalkar – Arjuna Awardee and ex-India football captain; V.M. Prabhudesai, Executive Director – Sports Authority of Goa; Andy Hook, Ex-Director – Homeless World Cup; and David Duke, CEO Street Soccer Scotland.
Rajkumar Bidawatka – Head CSR, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) said, “Slum Soccer is a very dear cause to our CSR philosophy. For the fourth consecutive year, it gives us immense pride to witness the initiative’s impact on sports, in transcending boundaries and empowering youth. We will continue to support initiatives, which foster sustainable development and equality. At SPN, we constantly aspire to nurture young talent in the country through the medium of sports.”
Vijay Barse, Founder, Krida Vikas Sansthan, said, “The SPN National Inclusion Cup, provides an opportunity for the underprivileged youth of India to represent their state and discover their hidden talent and become beacons of inspiration for others in their community. It inculcates and builds their confidence and self-esteem as a result of their involvement. I am amazed to see the response this initiative has garnered and the impact it has created. From our first National Inclusion Cup in 2002 to today in 2020, we have organised several tournaments. Sony Pictures Networks India has been a rock-solid support for our venture for the last 4 consecutive years and has helped us reach new heights, for which we are grateful and thankful.”