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Backstreet boys search for the Messi touch

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2010 01:28 IST
Moonmoon Ghosh

The ground behind the bungalow at 27, Akbar Road, wears a well-kept and serene look. Green nylon nets enclose the space and a football rests in a corner, the only sign of sporting activity.

From June 8, three days before the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa, the ground will host the second edition of the Delhi Street Football (DSF) tournament.

Six enthusiasts, young boys with a penchant for the sport, started the DSF.

Eighteen-year-old Karan Verma, in his first year of graduation at Amity University, has even participated in national football trials.

"There were close to 400 spectators last year. We are hoping for a better turnout this time," said Aman Arora, a 19-year-old student of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, dressed in the black DSF jersey.

Started in 2009, the DSF has four categories this year, which include under-16, under-21, above-21 and a competition for girls.

Fifty-four teams from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) participated in the inaugural edition, but with growing interest, the number has increased to 64.

So has the prize money. From Rs 10,000 last year for the winners in each format, it has doubled to Rs 20,000. "We're hoping to bring in more teams from different cities next year," said Agastya Dalmia, a student of Hindu College. "We are thinking of starting a zonal competition as well."

Fifteen matches will be played in a knockout format everyday, from 4.30 pm until 10 pm, under floodlights.

The matches will be of 30-minutes duration with five players in each team. The finals will be played on June 12.

Street football differs from normal football. The field is smaller, the offside rule is disregarded and no permanent goalkeeper is required in this format.

The game is played with a “free goalkeeper” - any member of the team can play under the bar but the change has to be announced in the team-sheet.

With the World Cup fever in full pitch, a big-screen television will also be set up at the ground on June 11 and 12.

“We'll be screening the USA-England opener for the spectators, along with other matches,” said Karan, who will be rooting for Lionel Messi and Argentina to lift the trophy.