Every year, 14thNovember is celebrated across the country as Children’s Day, to commemorate the birth anniversary of India’s first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. As part of its mission, Slum Soccer has always strived to create events and programs that can help in productively engaging the youth, and the Children’s Cup annually organized by Slum Soccer on Children’s Day epitomizes that intent. Since 2001, Slum Soccer has been organizing a football tournament in Nagpur, the Children’s Cup, which brings together children from a variety of different locations for a day spent interacting with each other, making new friends while competing for the coveted winner’s trophy.

Just like every year, this year too Slum Soccer organized the annual Children’s Cup on 14th November. The tournament attracted 70 participants aged ranging from 10-16 years from 4 different communities in Nagpur such as Bokhara, Godhani, Strapur, and Lonara. Given our drive towards inclusivity, this included girls and boys as well as 10 deaf participants, who played together to foster trust and a spirit of collaboration.

All the participants were divided into 2 groups and each group had 5 teams of 7 participants each.

★ *Group A*  

Chelsea FC               

Mumbai FC

Nagpur FC

Mohan Bagan FC

Bangalore FC

★ *Group B*

Chennai FC

East Bengal FC

Pune FC

Delhi FC

Real Madrid FC

While a couple of the teams drew inspiration from international football clubs, it was heartening to see some teams name themselves after the famous football clubs in India! The participants were raring to go and keen to prove their mettle on the pitch. It promised to be a fantastic tournament!

Chelsea FC and Nagpur FC kicked things off as they faced each other in the 1st football match of the tournament. After going toe-to-toe for 15 minutes the teams had to settle for a draw and in the end, the final score stood 1-1.

On the other hand, Chennai FC and Delhi FC from group B played a thrilling match on pitch 1 and Chennai FC took the crown with a 2 – 1 score.

In addition to the participants, there were many spectators cheering on the teams as they played each game with increasing passion. The chief guest Mrs. Lata, Mr. Sanket from HCL foundation along with many other local dignitaries’ distinguished guests, and guardians were also in attendance and could be seen sharing the enthusiasm of the children, with equal gusto.

The matches were played with vigor and generated a great deal of excitement. While all the teams showcased their skills and tried their best to book their spot in the final, only 2 teams could make the cut: Mumbai FC and Pune FC.

The Final had a thrilling start as the Mumbai FC attackers took an audacious shot at the opponent’s goal straight from the kick-off. The gamble paid off and Mumbai FC took an invaluable early lead. But Pune FC did not lead their heads to drop and were determined to make a comeback. Their efforts were finally rewarded as Chetan scored and drew them level at 1-1.

The final match was turning out to be an action-packed affair and the spectators were cheering on both teams, sharing the energy and enthusiasm of the players. In the end, it was Mumbai FC who edged out as winners and the match ended 3-1 in their favor.

The last but the most memorable part of the tournament (especially for the winning team!) is always the prize distribution and medal ceremony.

At the end of the event, the chief guest delivered a speech signifying the importance of arranging tournaments of this nature and their contribution to the children’s development. Mr. Sanket also commended the participants for their laudable performances and felicitated them with medals and gifts.

While there will always be winners and losers in sports that tag loses its significance when compared to the benefit which tournaments like this can bring to all the participants. Mumbai FC was well-deserved champions on the day, but the Champions Cup 2021 will be a fond memory etched in the minds of every participant for a long time to come. Creating memories like that is what makes us feel like the real winners!