Nike kicked off its annual grass root initiative for football in India - the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) - India Final 2008, which will be conducted across India from November 28 to January 20, 2008. This is the third consecutive year that Nike is conducting the tournament, in association with the All India Football Federation.
Over the years, Nike's MUPC tournament attracted participation from teams across different parts of the country, such as Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore, Orissa, Pondicherry, Kerala, Gujarat, Delhi, Chandigarh, Goa, Kolkata and the North East. This year over 50 teams from across the country are vying to be the Indian finalists.
The competition, which is open to footballers under the age of 15, has gathered global momentum over the past few years having attracted a cumulative participation of 9,00,000 players and 9,000 teams from over 40 countries such as England, France, Brazil, Germany and many more. The tournament has witnessed past winners of champion clubs Barcelona, Corinthians, Manchester City, Sao Paulo to name a few.
"The Nike MUPC tournament is a testimony to our commitment to elevating the sport of football in the country. We are very encouraged by the growing participation in this tournament each year and we are committed to making this tournament a truly enriching experience for the young footballer," says Mr. Sanjay Gangopadhyay, Marketing Director, Nike India. "The winners of the India round will be flown to South East Asia to participate in the South East Asian regional finals of the tournament to be held in May 2008."
The tournament is conducted under the aegis of the All India Football Federation with the support of Tamil Nadu Football Association, Chandigarh Football Association and Goa Football Association.
Welcoming the initiative, Alberto Colaco, AIFF general secretary, said, "This annual event will help popularize the sport at a grassroots level and encourage young talent by giving them an opportunity to participate in a global tournament. It is in line with the AIFF's vision for Indian football and we will work together on similar initiatives in the future that aim to elevate the sport in the country."
The participating teams include East Bengal FC, Mohun Bagan AC, Mahindra United FC, JCT, Dindigul District Youth Academy, Pune FC, Viva Kerala, Salgaocar Sports Club, Sporting Club De Goa, etc.
The group stage matches of the tournament will be held in two centres i.e South and West Zone (Chennai Qualifier) at J.N. Stadium, Chennai from Nov 28 to Dec 1. The East and North Zone (Chandigarh Qualifier) at Sector 17, Chandigarh between Dec 13 to 16 and the MUPC India finals 2008 will be held at Duler Stadium, Goa between Jan 16 and 20, 2008.