Having witnessed dozens of enticing encounters among hundreds of teams over the last many days and after winning the hearts of millions of football lovers and players, the 3rd season of STAIRS School Football League (SSFL) -- which was kicked off by Shri Vijay Goel, Minister of State, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, on Oct 19th, 2016, at Thyagaraj Sports Complex in New Delhi – came to an end on Thursday, Dec 1, 2016. Shri Rajiv Yadav, Sports Secretary, Government of India, presided as the Chief Guest for the closing ceremony, while many other dignitaries graced the occasion with their presence.
Mega sports event SSFL-3 saw more than 30,000 school-level footballers from 2000 schools of Delhi & Gujarat participating in the tournament. During the event 4000 matches (500 in Delhi and 3500 in Gujarat) were played, making it the biggest as well as the longest-ever football league at the school level. A total of 256 teams, comprising 128 teams of under 14 boys and 128 teams of under 17 boys, participated in the tournament. Apart from the boys’ team, the tournament also witnessed avid participation from 32 girls’ teams in U-14 and U-17 categories.
The closing event was followed by a prize distribution ceremony, during which trophies, medals and certificates were given to the winning team and players for showing exemplary performance. Shri Rajiv Yadav, Sports Secretary, congratulated the winning team for their gritty win and thanked all the participants for their enthusiasm and passion for the game of football. He also assured all future support to the STAIRS School Football League, world’s biggest football scouting and training programme at the school level, and other initiatives of STAIRS in order to encourage and develop sports at the grassroots level.
Congratulating the winning team and talking about STAIRS, Shri R K Jain, Group President, UFLEX, said, “We are glad to see the growing love and passion of today’s children towards sports like football, and think that if nurtured well, they can well be the super sportspersons of tomorrow. So far as our association with STAIRS is concerned, it has come a long way for institutionalizing sports in the best interest of underprivileged children and youth. I am happy to see how this platform has evolved over the years, paving the way for inclusive development. One noteworthy thing to mention is that not only boys, but even girls are now showing their keen interest in football. SSFL-3 itself saw participation from 32 girls’ teams, which is quite encouraging. We hope that the confidence of children playing under the Uflex-SSFL banner will only grow over time.”
Addressing the august gathering at the closing event, Mr. Siddhartha Upadhyay, Founder and Secretary General, STAIRS, said, “Gone are the days when Indians were crazy only for cricket. Now football seems set to regain its lost glory and make a big comeback in times to come. The massive craze for soccer among the nation’s youth today as well as hosting of events like SSFL-3 are a precursor to this. I am happy to announce that SSFL has already established itself as the largest football talent scouting and training programme in India, and has also become one of the most significant ‘talent spotting’ platforms for clubs and bodies seeking to acquire talent right at early adolescence. During a short span of two years of its existence, about 35,000 children have already been enrolled with SSFL, while the aim is to cross 1,00,000 footballers on a permanent basis for scouting, training and development. I see a great future for football in India.”
Addressing the august gathering at Thyagaraj Sports Complex, Mr. Siddhartha Upadhyay, Founder and Secretary General, STAIRS said,
"When we talk about a billion plus population, my question is: how many of them play? There is a need to build the sporting culture at the grassroots, expand opportunities for children and help them discover their love and talent for sports. Stairs School Football League is seen as thegame changer in the football journey of the country. Already 35,000 children have been enrolled with SSFL, and the aim is to cross 1,00,000 footballers on a permanent basis for scouting, training and development. This year we have added STAIRS football academies in various parts of Delhi and plan to open in Gujarat as well. This will further catalyze the process of producing champions in the country.” .
The fundamental objectives of SSFL include -
a) Transforming the sporting scenario at the grassroots, ,
b) Uproot all obstacles confronting sporting talent at the hinterland and
c) Nurturing future champions and creating opportunities for them to excel
SSFL-3 began with league matches at over 8 different venues across four zones in Delhi while the semi-final and final games were played at the central venue. The event was solely meant for the children under 14 years and under 17 years of age and exactly followed the FIFA World Cup format. All the participating school teams also had to go through the qualifier rounds. For the 3rd season, SSFL got assistance from Sakaar Association for all its matches/ events in Delhi and from Gujarat State Football Association for all Gujarat-based matches.
Winners of 3rd season of STAIRS School Football League (SSFL)
|S.No||Winner||Runner – up||Final Score|
|Under 14 girls|
||Ahlcon Public School||Modern School, Vasant Vihar||2-0|
|Under 17 girls|
||RSKV, East Vinod Nagar||Ahlcon Public School||1-0|
|Under 14 boys|
||GBSSS No 1, Moti Bagh||STAIRS East||4-0|
|Under 17 boys|
||Nalanda Public School||CRPF Rohini||4-1|