Its kickoff time at the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge (MYFC) and the playing field is the capital city of New Delhi. The first round of this unique Under-14 Schools Football Tournament-cum-Talent Hunt will see 32 leading soccer playing schools from Delhi competing amongst themselves to bag the honour of the “Champion School’ of Delhi. These schools will then lock horns with five other champion schools from Mumbai, Kolkatta, Goa, Bangalore and Kerala to decide the winner of the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge.
MYFC is the Mahindra Group’s commitment to promote football at the grassroots level. The company has partnered with Scottish football giants, Celtics Football Club, who will take on the responsibility of training and grooming young talent identified through the initiative.
In its first season, MYFC will play out in six cities including popular football destinations - Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Goa, Bangalore and Kerala, casting a wide net to identify the most talented junior football players in the country. The MYFC initiative is being promoted and executed by leading sports management company, Procam International.
Speaking at the launch of the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge earlier in Mumbai, Anand Mahindra Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra Group said, “We are delighted to be back as promised with a grassroots level football programme, a sport we have long been associated with. The Mahindra Youth Football Challenge aims to cultivate young talent and provide a competitive framework to hone their skills.”
Backing Mahindra’s commitment to the sport was Peter Lawell, Chief Executive, Celtics FC, who said, ‘We are delighted to partner with Mahindra, who like us have a long and cherished history with football. It is the perfect platform to bring our rich coaching and community experience to India. Youngsters will now have the opportunity to play in an organized league and further develop their skills through world-class coaching.”
Speaking about the top-class event that will commence in the six cities, Vivek B Singh, Joint Managing Director, Procam International, said, "It is indeed a pleasure to be associated with a project that involves such reputed entities as Mahindra and Celtics FC. Procam International is committed to giving India's junior footballers a professional playing experience, enabling them to focus completely on the task on hand, which is to play good football."
The Delhi leg of the MYFC is being held in association with the Delhi Soccer Association and matches will be played at the Ganga International ground, CRPF ground and the Bal Bhawan ground at Dwarka.
Among the top 32 schools invited to participate in the championships are fancied names that include CRPF School, Ganga International, Bal Bhavan, Modern Barakhamba, Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, St. Xavier’s, Dipiksha Public School and DPS, to name a few.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES: There is plenty to play for in the Intra-City stage, with the winners from each city gaining Rs. 30,000, the runners-up team Rs. 20,000 and the 3rd placed winner Rs. 15,000. The teams that reach the last eight stages will be provided with kitting, while the winners and runners-up teams will be awarded trophies with each player from these teams getting a kit bag. Similarly, there will be a ‘Star Performer of the Game’ trophy for each match from the quarter-final stage and ‘Best Player of the Tournament’ Trophy to be won.
Going ahead, the champion school of the Mahindra Youth Football Challenge will receive a cash prize of Rs 50,000, along with the winner’s trophy, while the runner-up team will win a cash prize of Rs 30,000 and a trophy. There will also be awards such as ‘Star Performer of the Game’ and individual appreciation trophies for the ‘Best Striker’, ‘Best Mid-fielder’, ‘Best Defender’ and ‘Best Goalkeeper.’
Each player from the six teams in the Inter-City League will be given two pairs of kitting (Jersey, Shorts & Stockings), while travel, out of pocket expenses during the travel, and lodging & boarding of all the six schools will be taken care of by MYFC.
A CHANCE TO LEARN FROM THE BEST: The winning schools from the six cities and their coaches will benefit from a four-day coaching camp to be conducted by a panel of visiting coaches from the Celtics Football Club before the Inter-City Challenge. This same panel will then shortlist 16 players from the Inter-City Challenge who will further undergo an intensive five-day long coaching clinic where two to four of the best players will be picked to travel to Scotland and the Celtics Football Club for further intensive training.