English daily Hindustan Times had put together the fourth edition of its annual football competition for kids that came to an end on October 8.
While the digital revolution has made it possible for kids and adults to remain connected with each other round the clock, the flip side is that it has disconnected all of them from the real world. This is what led Hindustan Times to come up with GIFA, Great Indian Football Action, an inter-locality football tournament for children in Delhi-NCR.
It is a football league in which kids from Classes 5-8 (Juniors) and Classes 9-12 (Seniors) participate, train and play hard to win the championship.
In its fourth season, HT GIFA has participation from over 25,000 children. It is a platform for aspiring football players to train under the best football coaches with proper infrastructure and attain fame and recognition for their talent.
The opening ceremony of the Hindustan Times Great Indian Football Action was held at the Thyagaraj Stadium on September 16 and witnessed 6,000 kids who came with their friends and families.
The event was kick-started by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar who is known for his inclination towards fitness, sports and adventure. Kumar said, “HT GIFA is a great platform for sports enthusiasts and provides an opportunity to connect with the people. I am overwhelmed to see the parents supporting their children to pursue sports as a profession for a healthy lifestyle.” The Khiladi has been associated with the tournament for three years.
With the idea to emphasise on the significance of fitness and encourage kids from localities to come together to play the most popular upcoming sport of the country, GIFA was initiated in the year 2014 with just 60 teams in Gurgaon. It is the first-of-its-kind inter-locality football tournament which provides a platform for kids and families to step out of their homes and play football regularly to fine tune motor skills, learn life lessons in team work and cultivate sportsman spirit.
Ashu Phakey, COO, HT, said, “Over the last four years, the love and support which GIFA has received, from parents and children alike has made it India’s largest neighbourhood football tournament. Going beyond just football, it has helped with community bonding and created awareness on physical fitness and teamwork. We are indeed humbled to see GIFA becoming an integral part of the community.”
Rajan Bhalla, Chief Marketing Officer, HT Media Limited, said, “Hindustan Times always endeavours to create meaningful difference in the lives of its readers, be it through taking up issues that matter or creating platforms that encourage talent. In a span of just four years, GIFA has established itself as an acclaimed and celebrated platform for young and talented kids to showcase their sporting skills. Some of the players at GIFA have potential to be future sports stars.”
This year, GIFA has collaborated with LaLiga as its Global Football Partner to give international exposure to the young players. Going beyond the senior and junior boys category teams, there is a special ‘All-girls league’ in this season, which has got a huge response from female footballers. The tournament has witnessed some of the best young players of the city showcasing their football skills on field. With GIFA, Hindustan Times is taking forward the government’s ‘Mission 11 million’ programme which was launched this year, to promote football in the country.