Winners of the QPR – Milind Deora South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenger Talent Hunt off to QPR Academy, London

As part of the 6th edition of the QPR-Milind Deora South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenger held last year in November, three talented youngsters were personally chosen at a special camp held in Mumbai in January 2015 by Chris Ramsey, Head Coach of English Club Queens Park Rangers to train at the QPR Academy for a two week period between 15th and 30th of August. As is the case each year, this is the sixth batch of youngsters who would be travelling to the QPR Academy, London.

The 6th edition of the QPR-South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenger 2014, a Milind Deora initiative in partnership with English Premier League Club Queens Park Rangers, is India’s largest community football event. The event is conceived and managed by Saran Sports. The championship attracted as many as 6012 children from over 134 schools representing 703 teams. Over 900 matches were played, where 28% of the participants were girls and as many as 88% of the participants were from municipal and government aided schools.

Milind Deora (Former South Mumbai Member of Parliament) the chief patron of the above challenger stated that “These three most talented kids from south Mumbai, coming from most unassuming schools are the winners amongst 6000 children who participated in the soccer championship. My endeavour for the last 6 years is to give them a platform to exhibit their talent. Our partner, QPR, identifies and trains them to be professional players. I hope one day, some of these kids will play for India”

According to Chris Ramsey (Head Coach of QPR) “The uniqueness of this event is the fact that the participating schools included municipal schools, government-aided schools and private schools, making it one of the largest community football events in India”. When asked to comment on the experience, he said, “We were involved in a very enriching experience as part of a program which aims to showcase young Asian talent and strengthen the football culture in Mumbai. Alex Carroll and I certainly got a taste of what life is like in Mumbai, where we also discovered how keen the young players were to learn and take on board what we were teaching them. I can’t wait to see the boys here where I am sure they can further develop their game working with the Academy staff, as well as have a great cultural experience in London.”

Close to sixty children were shortlisted for a special camp conducted by Chris Ramsey and his team after which three talented youngsters Sunil Mohan Rathod (14 years, Colaba Municipal School), Sunil Tulsiram Rathod (13 years, Colaba Municipal School) and Sitaram Nehru Rathod (13 years, Holy Name High School) were chosen the best of the lot. It is going to be a once in a lifetime experience for the U14 MSSA tournament regulars to train at the famed QPR academy, which has produced the likes of English and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who shifted from QPR to Liverpool in 2010.

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