New Delhi: The Virtual National Football tournament engaging 175 Athletes and approx. 30 Coaches, 16 officials and 70 volunteers from 16 States started today. Preliminary rounds will be conducted across all the 25 teams which comprise of 16 Male and 9 Female. Assam, Maharashtra and Odisha conducted their preliminary rounds today with the rest of the teams completing the same by the first week of September 2021. Divisioning , a feature specific to Special Olympics sports, will decide the final teams who will enter the competitive rounds from 20 September 2021 and is expected to continue until the end of the month of October 2021.
The event was witnessed by Mr Deepak John Nayak, Consultant & Manager, Futsal and Baby leagues, All India Football Federation.
Attended by approx 200 viewers the tournament was launched on 15 August 2021 in the distinguished presence of Mr Dipak Natali, PMD and Mr Coen Van Putten, Manager Sports, Special Olympics Asia pacific, Dr (Mrs) Mallika Nadda the Chairperson of SO Bharat The event commenced with an address by Mr KA Advaith, Athlete leader from Telangana and also a Medalist from the Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
Conceptualized by the Sports department of SO Bharat led by Mr Victor R Vaz the National Sports Director, the Athletes will compete across five skills including Dribbling, Ball control and turn, shooting in the goal, Target Hitting and Thigh Tap.
Funded by ESPN, the event substantiates the meaningful partnership between SOI and ESPN that started in 2013 and continues to strengthen Sports to promote Inclusion, in India along with other National Special Olympics programs around the world.
Divisioning is a fundamental rule at Special Olympics that athletes in competitions are matched up with others of the same gender, about the same age and most importantly, of about the same competitive ability.
Speaking on the occasion Mr Deepak John Nayak said: From what I have witnessed in the past few years and more so now, Special Olympics leads the way in terms of recognising the changing situation and fitting into the new procedures, to continue to keep the Athletes and Coaches meaningfully involved. The planning of this event and the detailing to ensure smooth execution is very note-worthy and appreciated.
In the words of Mr Victor R Vaz: This tournament once again throws the spotlight on football which has a tremendous appeal across a cross section of the society in India. To ensure reaching the grassroot with quality it is our endeavour to reach out to new partners and explore innovation around the sport. As football rolls out for the next two months we will be sure to raise the bar of the sport as well as the sporting skills of our Athletes.