Mayor of London praises the footballing talent of Mumbai as he announces young stars who will travel to UK

Four budding young footballers from Mumbai are set to head to London to train with Queens Park Rangers

Mayor of London praises the footballing talent of Mumbai as he announces young stars who will travel to UK

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the names of the successful youngsters on the first day of his trade mission to India.

Sadiq was attending the ninth annual finals day of the Mumbai Soccer Challenge and watched a challenge match to win the inaugural Mayor of London Cup. He confirmed that, for the first time in the scheme’s nine-year history, two girls, as well as two boys, will be heading to London.

The Mayor was joined at the finals day by Bollywood screen legend and the co-owner of Mumbai City football club, Ranbir Kapoor, as well as the Chairman of Queens Park Rangers, Tony Fernandes.

This initiative is another example of the close links between India and London. It has been fantastic to see the passion and skill of these young footballers, and to be able to announce that two girls as well as two boys will be travelling to London to train with Queens Park Rangers. I wish them every success and it is heartening to see how grassroots sport can inspire, thrill and change the lives of young people all over the world.” 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

The event is the initiative of local politician and former Minister, Milind Deora, and the children selected to train in London were chosen from the thousands of competitors who took part in the soccer challenge based on their footballing ability. Next year they will spend 10 days training with QPR at their academy in Cranford.

This event has given a platform to kids who love football. The professionalism and commitment by the organisers and the vision of Milind Deora is commendable. As owner of ISL Mumbai FC we will explore avenues to partner with QPR Mumbai Soccer Challenge. It's great to have Mayor Sadiq Khan with us today.” 

Co-owner of Mumbai City football club, Ranbir Kapoor.

Around 6,000 girls and boys from a range of different backgrounds have taken part in the South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenge this year. The event begins in October and culminates in a grand finals weekend. Queens Park Rangers have been a key and longstanding partner of the event. After their time in London and on return to Mumbai, the students are supported when competing for places in professional teams at city, regional and national levels.

Football is India’s second most popular sport and is rapidly growing in popularity, particularly with the younger population of the country and in the major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata. The Indian Super League (ISL), which kicked off in 2014, has been at the center of football’s boom. A huge marketing and TV reach combined with former international players and celebrity-ownership of teams means ISL football touches millions of Indians around the country, in cities and rural areas. Star Sports broadcasts the ISL through eight channels in five different languages to reach 85 per cent of the Indian television audience, the first of its kind in Indian sporting history.

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