With Delhi-NCR's school football league SSFL completing its second edition, the organisers have decided to spread its wings and start the talent scouting programme in Gujarat too.
According to Siddhartha Upadhaya, founder and secretary general of STAIRS, Gujarat emerged as the best option considering its ongoing initiatives in the field of sports.
STAIRS School Football League (SSFL) aims at enrolling one lakh footballers at school level through international standard championship, scouting camps and training.
"We started from Delhi last year and created a blueprint to be replicated throughout the country. SSFL Delhi, 2015 has been a great success. It has been a wonderful year for nearly 10,000 budding footballers of Delhi as SSFL gave them an opportunity to play and showcase their talent," says Upadhaya.
"After Delhi, we were scanning various other states to launch the second chapter. Our main agenda was to find a state with right systems in place where we could align our efforts and add value. Gujarat came out as the best option," he says.
The idea of SSFL is to uplift the standard of grassroots football in the country and at the same time create an opportunity for children to exercise their right to play.
The organisers say that schools in Ahmedabad have already started registering for the league.
"This being the first year, we'll only be selecting 64 teams of under-14 boys. This league will conclude in February and we will launch the full-fledged format in the next academic session," Upadhaya says, adding SSFL Ahmedabad will kick-start on January 12.
The age group in Ahmedabad is chosen keeping in mind the under-17 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the next two years and Sports Authority of Gujarat's scouting programmes.
The season 2 of SSFL Delhi culminated at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex on December 9. It saw participation of over 6,000 children across 288 schools in the National Capital Region. 592 matches were played in a span of 100 days engaging 288 teams. In a first, 32 girls' teams also participated in SSFL Delhi 2.
Matches were played under four categories - Under 14 Girls, Under 14 Boys, Under 17 Girls and Under 17 Boys. In the Under- 14 Boys finals, Air Force Bal Bharti School, Lodhi Road beat St. Francis Public School, Indirapuram 2-0 while Modern School, Vasant Vihar was victorious in the Under- 14 Girls finals beating Stairs North by an identical margin.
Ahlcon Public School, Mayur Vihar was the winner in the Under-17 Boys category defeating Venkateshwar International School, Dwarka 1-0 while R.S.K.V, East Vinod Nagar lifted the trophy in the Under-17 Girls category overcoming Modern School, Vasant Vihar 2-0.
Individual prizes were given for best strikers, best defenders, best goalkeepers, best midfielders and most promising players in respective age categories.