Team SSFL in Gujarat to assess footballing opportunities at grassroots

After a great success of STAIRS School Football League in Delhi, Team STAIRS is planning to launch the same in Gujarat. The idea is to engage over 10,000 budding footballers at the grassroots and create an opportunity for the promising ones to showcase their talent to the mentors.

Team STAIRS has initiated the process of conducting the baseline survey across Gujarat to understand the overall sporting culture across various regions of the state as well as the popularity of football amongst teenagers. The team will closely monitor the activities of school-going teens as well as school dropouts and unschooled to create hypothesis on how football intervention can bring about the behavioural change amongst the youth of the state.

The team will also evaluate the impact and the scale of the ongoing sports activities as also the existing sports infrastructure and facilities available in the state. Findings from its surveys and secondary research will be shared with the concerned authorities in the government as well as the sports fraternity with ideas and suggestions for developments of sports vis-à-vis overall growth of the youth in the state.

“There is a lot of good work happening across the country for development of sports at the grassroots. The governments, former players as well as several non-profits are making a true impact. However, as much as you do, there will always be a need to do a bit more, improve further and make a little better impact. That is what SSFL does. The idea of the league is to add value to the existing works of the government, the sports fraternity and other stakeholders. SSFL is a platform that optimally utilizes the available resources, engages footballers for nearly nine months, and delivers some of the most promising footballers from the grassroots,” said Mr Siddhartha Upadhyay, founder and secretary general, STAIRS.

“In its second year in Delhi, SSFL has more than doubled in scale and is being appreciated by all stakeholders. As it has become the first step towards professional football, it is being endorsed by some of the senior government officials and celebrity sportsmen. We are hoping to be able to replicate the model in Gujarat and provide opportunity to those hidden talents somewhere in the remote towns of the state, added Upadhyay.

The STAIRS team in Gujarat will also be meeting the leading corporate groups to discuss support possibilities under their corporate social responsibility (CSR). The new Companies Act 2013, that mandates large companies to spend on CSR has a clause under the Schedule VII that states the spend towards development of recognized sport qualifies as the CSR spend of the company. With over 14,000 companies falling under the ambit of the mandatory law, there lays a great potential to develop sports at the grassroots.

The Uflex Group is primarily supporting SSFL in Delhi while Max India Foundation has associated with the same as healthcare partners and has taken responsibility of injury or other medical emergencies that may occur during the league. Several other credible organizations have also engaged with the league to offer various services.

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