London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, announces the names of 4 Mumbai footballers who will train in London

Dec 04, 2017, 09:50 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

Sadiq Khan, in Mumbai before heading to Delhi and Amritsar, and later Pakistan, announces names of four young footballers selected to go and train with the prestigious Queens Park Rangers in London

Four budding footballers from Mumbai are all set to head to London to train with Queens Park Rangers. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is on a visit to India before heading to Pakistan, announced the quartet's names yesterday. Khan, who was attending the ninth annual finals of the Mumbai Soccer Challenge at The Western Railway Sports Ground in Worli last afternoon, was the chief guest and spectator for a challenge match to win the 'inaugural Mayor of London Cup'.

"No matter how big Messi or Ronaldo are, even they don't have a cup named after them," he chortled. His energy was contagious, which is really saying something as he had Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor for company onstage. "This time, for the first time in the scheme's nine-year history, two girls and two boys will be heading to London."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan at the event on Sunday. Pic/Shadab Khan
London Mayor Sadiq Khan at the event on Sunday. Pic/Shadab Khan

The great unifier
Khan said: "This initiative is another example of the close links between India and London. It has been fantastic to see the passion and skill of these young footballers, and to be able to announce that two girls as well as two boys will be travelling to London... I wish them every success; it is heartening to see how grass-roots sport can inspire, thrill and change the lives of young people all over the world. "The power of sport in bringing people together and encouraging healthy competition is a wonderful thing. One of the great things about football is that it doesn't matter whether you're Hindu or Muslim or Sikh when you're on the pitch. How well you do is down to the drive and talent of the individual and their team, and those valuable lessons can be applied to so many other situations in life."

A whirlwind visit
Khan was on the first day of a trade mission to India as part of his continued drive to create jobs, skills and growth in London, reminding everyone he met that London was still the world's number one destination for investment, talent and ideas. He said people from all over the world were welcome to work, study or visit his city. Khan is being accompanied by his deputy mayor for business, Rajesh Agrawal, and his jam-packed itinerary, covering three Indian cities, includes discussions on business and investment, regeneration opportunities, visas, and opportunities to work together.

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About the initiative
The event is the initiative of local politician and former minister Milind Deora. The children selected to train in London were chosen from thousands of competitors who took part in the soccer challenge. Next year, they will spend 10 days training with QPR at their academy in Cranford. Around 6,000 girls and boys from a range of backgrounds have taken part in the South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenge this year. Queens Park Rangers has been a longstanding partner of the event. After their time in London and on return to Mumbai, the students will be supported when competing for places in professional teams at city, regional and national levels.

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