The 18th Nashikrao Tirpude Memorial Slum Soccer Men’s State Championship was organized by Slum Soccer at Bokhara, Nagpur on January 27th & 28th, 2020. The tournament was held in a 4-A side format which makes it fast-paced and not meant for the fainthearted.. As is known, Slum Soccer, a FIFA-awarded Football for Development organization that uses football as a tool to educate, empower and provide opportunities to diverse and underprivileged communities throughout India. Slum Soccer has been organizing this tournament every year in memory of Shri Nashikrao Tirpude who was a visionary leader of Vidarbha and the first Deputy Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra.

 The tournament is held every year to provide a platform for the underprivileged youth of various districts of Maharashtra to showcase their football skills and also provide them an opportunity to impress the selectors for a place in the state team for the National Inclusion Cup organized by Slum Soccer every year. This year, altogether 11 teams from all across Maharashtra including Mumbai, Yavatmal, Wardha, Amravati, Pune, Nagpur City, Nagpur Rural, Washim, Akola, & Thane participated. Though the tournament saw exciting football on display, the limelight was stolen by a team of D/Deaf boys from the Shankarnagar Deaf School who played two matches with teams participating in the tournament. This match created a history of sorts as such a game was played for the first time in Maharashtra, and perhaps India, thereby creating history for such a match. The D/Deaf team lost the match but convinced all that their disability is not at all a disadvantage to play sport.

It won all hearts and took home oodles of confidence to play sports against their hearing peers and integrate with the mainstream. One of the main takeaways of the tournament was that it exemplified the power of football to include everyone in the game and promote integration in society.

The first phase of the tournament was on a league basis. After the league matches 4 outstanding teams from Mumbai, Pune, Akola, and Nagpur City, who topped their respective group and qualified for the knockout round of the tournament. Semi-finals and final matches were scheduled on the 28th of January; from this point, every match became a knockout match, which raised the competition a couple of notches higher.

The first semi-final was played between Mumbai and Nagpur City. The match was held in a highly charged atmosphere as both made back to back counters. At the full-time whistle, the scores were tied at 3-3. Sudden death penalty shoot-out ensued. With Aadil’s (Goalkeeper of Mumbai team) incredible save followed by Kasim memorable penalty scored, Mumbai advanced to the final of the tournament. The second semi-final was played between Team Pune and Team Akola in which Team Pune displayed exceptional performance and registered a comprehensive win over Akola with 7-2 final score and continued their winning run.

The final match was played between Team Pune and tournament favorites Team Mumbai. Till the finals, Mumbai had remained the unbeaten team and had defeated Pune in the league stage. However, Team Pune displayed dominance right from the word ‘Go’. Pune’s (Player name) scored the first goal within the 30 seconds which boosted the team’s confidence. The second goal was scored in the dying minute of the first half. Throughout the game, Pune displayed an electrifying game and turned the tables on tournament favorites Team Mumbai. Mumbai’s Tahir Khan scored the only goal for the team. Afterward, (Player name Pune) scored the final goal with an excellent strike from a distance thereby ending Mumbai’s unbeaten streak and avenging their loss in the league stages. 

Nagpur City Akola 7-1
Nagpur Rural Wardha 2-7
Washim Yawatmal 6-5
Akola Thane 2-1
Amrawati Mumbai 3-11
Ahamadnagar Washm 3-5
Thane Nagpur City 5-7
Mumbai Pune 7-5
Yawatmal Ahmadnager 2-8
Pune Amrawati 16-2
Mumbai Akola 9-0
Nagpur City Wardha 7-5
Akola Washim 7-5
Wardha Pune 8-2
Mumbai Thane 4-3
Nagpur City Ahmadnager 8-1
Washim Mumbai 2-5
Pune Nagpurcity 8-1
Thane Washim 4-5
Ahmadnager Pune 2-8
Akola Thane 3-2
Wardha Ahmadnager 4-3
Mumbai Nagpur City 4-3
Pune Akola 11-2 (Semi final)
Nagpur City Akola 5-4 (Semi final)
Mumbai Pune 1-3 Final

The closing ceremony was held right after the tournament’s final, in which Mr. Rajkumar Tirpude (President of Yugantar Education Society Nagpur) along with Slum Soccer’s Founder & Secretary Prof. Vijay Barse, were the guest of honor. The Guests handed over the trophies to the teams and also addressed them with their inspiring words.

“While addressing Mr. Rajkumar Tirpude said, “what was started to engage you in meaningful and productive activities has gone beyond my imagination. I am amazed to see Deaf children playing with their hearing peers, something that was beyond my imagination and has been a delight to behold.”