A team comprising underprivileged children in the city has been chosen to participate in the Gothia Cup Football Tournament, in Sweden. SKF India has announced sponsorship for the 16-member team from SKF India Sports Academy to participate in the tournament.
Gothia Cup is the largest international youth football tournament in the world. Each year around 1,600 teams from 60 countries participate in what is popularly known as the Football World Cup for teenagers.
Speaking about the cup, Shishir Joshipura, Managing Director and Country Manager, SKF India, says, “We hope to provide a platform for youngsters to encourage their all-round development through the sports academy.”
Joshipura adds, “We formed the team by short-listing players from PCMC (Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation) schools. These children come from lower socio-economic sections of society and this is the first international tour for most.”
Level playing field?
The players too are looking forward to playing at the international level. 16-year-old Permeshwar Dhage says, “This is the second time that I’m going for the Gothia Cup. I hope we showcase our best performance as a team and win.”
Dhage adds that the team trains religiously for over four hours every day. “Hopefully, our efforts will bear fruit,” he says. Rajendra Pahnalkar, who has been coaching students at the academy for the past seven years, agrees that the team has put in a lot of hard work. “The boys start training at five in the morning, before school,” he says, adding, “The idea is to be on par with international standards.”
The parents too are thrilled about their children being part of the prestigious tournament. Vandana Pandit, one of the mothers, says, “I’m very happy with what my son has achieved.”
Pandit adds that while she was initially apprehensive about sending her son out of the country for the first time, she has agreed to leave her fears behind, as it is for a good cause. “I hope that he will continue playing, and one day make a career in football, as he is very good.”