SPPU international football fest kick-starts with Afghanistan beating Zambia 5-0
According to Savitribai Phule Pune University co-ordinators, the festival’s purpose is to help foreigners settle down in a city that they might be visiting for the first timeUpdated: Jan 16, 2020 16:55 IST
PUNE The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) hosts the International Youth Festival at the start of every year; a tradition that has been carried out for 25 years now. Amongst various events, sports, in the form of football, has been included in the programme last year.
After the football tournament, the festival will move on to the next stages which include a food festival, flag march, and concludes with a cultural and traditional event on the final day of the festival.
According to the co-ordinators, the purpose of the festival is to help foreigners settle down in a city that they might be visiting for the first time.
The festival kicked-off on Tuesday with 12 countries participating in the knock-out football tournament.
Each player representing his country is either a student at the SPPU or from a college affiliated to the SPPU.
The tournament comprises Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Turkmenistan, Yemen, and Zambia.
While there are 12 teams in the men’s category, there are five teams in the women’s category.
“The women from Afghanistan who are adjudged to be orthodox and conservative took the field on the opening day on Tuesday. They lost 2-1 to Sri Lanka, but just to see them take the field, play, enjoy the moment and score a goal was a beautiful moment for everyone who witnessed it,’ said one of the festival coordinators.
On the first day, Sudan beat Yemen to face Turkmenistan, and Iraq beat Nepal to face South Africa in the quarter-finals.
In the other half of the draw, Afghanistan bested Nigeria to face Zambia, while Congo defeated South Sudan to face Chad.
In the quarter-final round on Wednesday, Chad confirmed their semifinal presence earning a walkover victory against absent Congo.
They will face Afghanistan, who thrashed Zambia 5-0, in the last-four on Thursday. Sudan earned a 2-0 victory over Turkmenistan while Iraq beat South Africa 2-1.
After the quarter-finals, Afghanistan’s Zabihullah Alizada said, “We enjoyed it thoroughly because it was a very friendly encounter between the two sides. It has been like that since the start.”
The 26-year-old has been in India for just a little over 18 months and is pursuing an MTech in Civil Engineering at the SPPU.
“The tournament has helped us meet more people from our own country and also from other countries and our friend circles keep growing after every match,” added the Afghani.
Festival coordinator, Mohammed Asef Hamraz, also hails from Afghanistan and has been in India for just six months. Pursuing an MA in Politics, the 33-year-old finds the city of Pune quite peaceful. Hamraz also lauded efforts put in by the International Centre of SPPU to host such a festival.
“When I came here, I was all alone and I knew no one. I am very thankful to the people who organised this event for us. I met a lot of new people and I have so many new friends now which is helping me settle down here really well. So far, it has been an amazing experience and I hope Afghanistan goes all the way and wins in the final,” said Hamraz.
After the game
“We beat them 5-0 so I am very happy. It is simply amusing how quickly we have all gelled with each other and understood each other’s style of play. Most of us did not know each other before this tournament, but thankfully the festival has got us all together. All of us have become really good friends and even on the pitch, the understanding we have is next level, said Zabihullah Alizada, midfielder, Afghanistan.
How does the tournament work?
- Students from SPPU volunteer are coordinators
- A “country oncharge” or “country representative” is picked for every country which participates in the festival.
- Every participating country is given a unique kit to wear during the tournament.
- Licenced referees are appointed
- The duration for each game is 70 minutes till the quarter-finals, divided into two halves. The duration for the semis and finals will be 90 minutes.
- The tournament is not open to outsiders. A player has to either be from the Pune University or from a college which is affiliated by the Pune University.
- To prevent the participation of outsiders, a document check is performed before every match
Afghanistan 5 bt Zambia 0
Iraq 2 bt South Africa 1
Sudan 2 bt Turkmenistan 0
Chad bt DR Congo (walkover)
Afghanistan vs Chad
Iraq vs Sudan