Western India Football Association signs Rs 100-crore deal with Sporting Ace Pvt. Ltd for development of football in Maharashtra

Western India Football Association signs Rs 100-crore deal with Sporting Ace Pvt. Ltd for development of football in Maharashtra

 The Western Indian Football Association (WIFA) has entered into a strategic partnership with Sporting Ace Private Limited (SAPL) and come up with an ambitious and dynamic blueprint to develop and grow football in the state with development and promotion plans rolling out simultaneously in all the districts of Maharashtra.

This partnership between WIFA and SAPL will see an infusion of around Rs 100 crore for a period of ten years, with the funds being used to aggressively promote the sport at the grass roots level, grow the bank of young football players, increase the number of certified coaches, spread gratification in cash and kind, spreads its message to every nook and corner of the state, bring football of the highest standard through the revival and creation of aspirational tournaments and ensure that every youngster will have a realistic chance of reaching the pinnacle of the beautiful game.

This was announced at a press conference in the city on Wednesday in the presence of WIFA Vice-Presidents – Dr. Vishwajeet Kadam, Shri Maloji Raje Chatrapati, Shri Liaiqaut Hussain and Shri Sunil Dhande. Representing SAPL were Managing Director Sagar Pol Chowdhury, Director Zulfikar Mohd. and Director Kingshuk Gupta, while also present were Souter Vaz, Hon. Secretary, WIFA and Henry Menezes, CEO, WIFA.

The initiatives outlined under the partnership between WIFA and SAPL include the biggest talent hunt in Asia, The Mahayudh – targeting over 5000 teams and around 50,000 players from across Maharashtra, revival of the prestigious 122 year old Rovers Cup, besides aggressive programs for Coach and Referee education with the objective of creating 5000 certified coaches and 1000 certified referees within the next three years.

“Nearly one year of research and ideating with extensive fact-finding trips throughout the various affiliated districts, has been undertaken before both WIFA and SAPL came up with a blue print that has been deemed to be achievable. Earlier while most development plans would revolve around the bigger cities, first-hand information has made it clear that Football is very popular in all the districts of Maharashtra and enjoys a huge following amongst the younger generation. This interest only needs to be channelized in the right direction, with the best facilities and just rewards awaiting those who excel. This is what the partnership between WIFA and SAPL is confident of achieving,” said Souter Vaz, Hon. Secretary, WIFA.

“We believe in WIFA’s vision and commitment towards developing and growing football in Maharashtra. A lot of man hours have gone into coming up with a vision that is definitely ambitious but at the same time realistic. At SAPL we are confident that this historic partnership will galvanise and inspire more and more youngsters to play the sport of football with much more passion and commitment as there is a bright future awaiting all those who share this vision,” said Sagar Pol Chowdhury, MD, Sporting Ace.

Mahayudh –Asia’s biggest talent hunt: WIFA will launch a mammoth talent hunt along with all the District Football Associations throughout the state and are assured of participation from more than 5000 teams in the first phase, targeting in excess of 50,000 players and through them reaching out to more than 50,000 families.

The all-encompassing Mahayudh will be a talent hunt with a difference, breaking all barriers. Participation will be free, with no limit to the number of school teams that can participate. Even players who are not a part of a school team or who are not in school, can come together to form their own teams and participate in the talent hunt. Mahayudh will be conducted in multiple areas in each district to facilitate ease of travel for the players.

Mahayudh will be conducted from December 2012 to February 2013 and would target multiple locations in 30 districts.

The talent hunt will first entail an Intra-District (knock out tournament in the 7 vs 7 format) and will be played in four age categories, namely boys under-14, under-16 and under-18 and girls under-16. While the winning teams would be awarded handsomely, talent scouts would be present at all matches to choose the best players who would represent their districts in the respective age categories after a 7 to 10 day camp.

The District teams in the four age categories would then participate in an Inter-District tournament played on a league format, from which the best players would be chosen by the scouts to represent their regions, again after a 7 to 10 day camp.

The talent hunt will conclude with an Inter-Region League involving the six Regional teams representing Vidarbha Amravati Division, Vidarbha Nagpur Division, Marathwada, Konkan, Desh and Khandesh. The winners of this league would be crowned Maharashtra Champions!

The inter-district and inter region format at the top tiers of the competition have been formulated with the idea of generating a sense of pride towards representing district, region and the state in the hearts of the players and community and also to nurture healthy football rivalry amongst surrounding districts.

While there would be attractive cash prizes and trophies for the winners and runner-up teams of the Intra-District, Inter-District and Inter-Regional tournaments, besides individual prizes, there would also be kitting provided for the district teams and the Region teams in each age category.

The talent hunt would involve the District Football Associations, the Sports Ministry, the DSOs as well as I-League clubs.

The Mahayudh would also help in the development of the District Football Associations by helping them improve their administration capabilities as well as their marketing capabilities, as they would be urged to seek sponsorship packages for their district level events.

District FA Development: The Mahayudh would also help generate a larger pool of local talent, in turn increasing players and teams’ participation in the local football leagues.

The extensive scouting system used during the Mahayudh would also function as a feeder system for the Local DFA leagues and the State team.

WIFA will be conducting Seminars and Workshops for its affiliate District Football Associations to boost their Administration, Marketing, Development and Operations expertise. The district football associations will also be provided with laptops, cameras and internet facilities to enable them to be constantly in touch with WIFA and the flourishing football community.

WIFA will provide necessary football equipments wherever needed along with conducting other age group and open inter-district tournaments.

Coach Development, Referee Education Digital Media Development

Development of football at the grass roots level hinges largely on the number of coaches available and their quality, and the WIFA is committed to creating 5000 coaches in the next three years, aiming to conduct at least two AIFF ‘D’ License courses in every District Football Association. WIFA also intends to conduct more AFC ‘C’, ‘B’ and ‘A’ License courses.

Referee Education is also of paramount importance and it is WIFA’s vision to help produce 1000 referees in the next three years, with at least one Category 5 Exam to be conducted every year by every District Football Association.

WIFA CEO, Henry Menezes elaborates,” In addition to the above, WIFA and SAPL will be looking to engage the football community in Maharashtra through new and exciting formats such as Futsal, Beach Football, Freestyle Football, etc. and also look the possibility of a Professional State League to create more professional opportunities for the flourishing football community.

“One more area of development on top priority of WIFA-SAPL is Digital Media Development. Digital media is our strong focus. Football is already popular in Maharashtra and we need to show our strength to the world through digital media platforms such as websites, social media, mobile, etc. This will help us engage the football community not just in Maharashtra, but all over the world.”

Rovers Cup to be revived in 2013 with Rs 1 crore prize money: The hosting of high level football matches plays a big role in the revival and promotion of a sport, and accordingly, the revival of the Rovers Cup in a much bigger and grander avatar is one of the key milestones in the partnership between WIFA and SAPL.

The120-year tournament for the Rovers Cup will be played on the artificial turf of the all-new Cooperage Stadium in 2013, between July 27th to August 11th 2013 and will involve the top teams from the I-League and foreign teams, offering prize money of Rs 1 crore.

All the major players are in place and a grand stage is being prepared to facilitate the development of football on a large scale. This project has been well researched and provided for, but for it to succeed it needs the support of each and every well wisher of the sport in the state.

Let’s all get together to herald the revival and development of football!