The players from last week’s Gurgaon venue are keeping a close watch on the Top 64 knock out matches that will be played on Saturday at CWG Village, Delhi. However, what is interesting to note, is the involvement of the family members. From parents to siblings to relatives, everyone is getting behind the kids as the HT GIFA fever is taking over Delhi NCR.
“I’m 100% sure that he will win the trophy this year. He is a very good player, practises hard and has won lot of school tournaments too. This is of course a more prestigious platform for him and more competitive too but humara beta winner hai, jeetega for sure.” said a very enthused chacha of Aagam Jain from Rohini FC.
Mrs. Bhalla, grandmother of Ayush from team Dwarka United FC has decided to seek the blessings of the almighty for her team’s victory. “In old times, we always did a kirtan or puja before starting any important task. As the match is near Akshardham temple, I am taking my grandson’s team there before the start to take the blessings of the almighty. I believe it will bring them luck. They always take me for the matches and his friends call me “lucky dadi”.
65-yr old Mr. Om Prakash does not believe in relying on faith alone though. “Discipline and hard work are important to achieve success in any field including sports. I make sure my grandson wakes up every morning at 6 am to practice for his match. I know most of his friends’ grandparents too, so while we all go for our morning walk, we ensure the kids go for their practice.”
Parents have a different view though. For them HT GIFA is not so much about the trophy as it is about learning skills. “This year the competition to even get into the main tournament was so hard, I’m just happy my son’s team is part of it. I don’t think winning or losing is the key. It’s about teamwork and leadership skills that my child will pick by being part of HT GIFA.” Said Narayan Arya, father of Nikhil from Black Panthers FC.
Mr. Khateeb Akhtar, family friend of one of the players of Malviya Rockers, a team that got knocked out in last week’s matches agrees. “Devesh played really well and I could see his confidence grow as the team relied on him to score goals. The opposing team was very strong and he was playing for the first time in HT GIFA, so he couldn’t make it to the next round. But what matters is that he was part of India’s biggest football tournament for kids. That’s something he will never forget and I’m sure he will try again next year.”
The teams who have made it to the Top 64 from Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad are practicing hard for the upcoming knockout matches on Saturday and Sunday, which will leave only the best teams to compete in the Super 16 level commence on Sunday. In the Super 16 stage, the top 8 teams from both venues – Delhi and Gurgaon -- in each category will clash for the HT GIFA trophy.
“We decided to have only 1 overall winner this year in each category because we wanted the kids to get a chance to play against the best across state lines. We have invited scouts from our Football Development partner, Delhi Dynamos FC, who will be looking for the best talent amongst the HT GIFA players”, said Ashu Phakey, GIFA Brand Ambassador and Business Head – HT.
The players are also excited about this opportunity and focused in their approach to the game. “Last year, we came pretty close but got knocked out towards the end rounds. There were selectors from Haryana State Board and Delhi Dynamos and they picked up a lot of kids. I’m hoping this year they will pick me!” said Rishabh Verma from Ghaziabad Real Hustlers FC.
Another player, Arjun Pande of team Gurgaon Gladiators of Nirvana Country said, “This year, we are not going to let the trophy out of our sight. We have been practicing for months now even before the tournament started and our game has improved a lot”. They have played in HT GIFA since it began 3 years ago. On the other hand, there are the first timers, who are excited and upbeat about the challenge.
“This is our first year in HT GIFA but we have an amazing chemistry in our team. Everyone from the goal keeper to the striker has great coordination and is in sync with each other. That’s more important than having one Ronaldo in your team. Individual players can only take your team so far. I feel as a team we have a shot at the trophy,” says, Praval Shukla from team Real Noida Rivals.
Harshit Bhagotia from Football Hunterzzz, Gurgaon says, “HT GIFA is more exciting this year. We are going up against teams from Delhi and Noida in the Super 16. It’s like a tri-state tournament now.”
Richa Bansal, mother of Ishaan, says, “Kids don’t often get a chance to play in such a big stadium like CWG Village. Thanks to HT for making this possible. It does wonders for the child’s confidence and morale to even advance one level in a big tournament like HT GIFA.”
Jasmeet, elder brother of Archit Jain from team VIPS Pitampura United, says, “I’m really proud of my little brother and I’m going to be there on the field to support him as he takes on the teams from Gurgaon.”
Daljeet, mausi of Aaan Chadha from team Ryan Vasant Kunj and a resident of Chandigarh says, “When my sister told me that Beverly Bullets team has qualified for the next round, I decided to come down for the weekend to Delhi to cheer him. It’s important to be there for kids. For us adults, it may be just a tournament but for them it’s a big thing and every victory should be celebrated by the family.”
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