Sony promotes slum soccer with 'National Inclusion Cup’ initiative

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) has continued with its CSR initiative in football by sponsoring the ‘SPN National Inclusion Cup 2019’ for the third year in a row.

It has tied up with Slum Soccer, the Mumbai-based NGO which aims at empowering underprivileged youth socially and economically through the game of football. The first-of-its-kind tournament took place from 13-17 February at the Mohammed Hussain Sports Ground in the city.

Sony’s association began in the first season in February 2017 which saw the participation of 40 teams (24 men and 16 women) from different states of India and a team from Nepal.

The second year saw 10 more teams play, which included two from Nepal, covering a base of 500 youngsters.

This year, two new teams from Bangladesh joined in. 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 South Mumbai. Ace footballers like Ashley Westwood, Terry Phelan and Steven Dias were present on various days of the tournament to motivate the teams.

Highlights from the tournament were aired on the ‘Kick Off’ show on Sony Ten 2 and will also be available on SonyLIV.

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.

SPN CSR head Rajkumar Bidawatka stated: “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 recognises talent but also contributes towards nurturing India’s true potential. At SPN, our constant endeavour is to create equal opportunities for every individual in the country.”

Slum Soccer founder Vijay Barse added: “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 organised 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.”