First edition of Inspire Cup held
First edition of Inspire Cup held
ASA-RDT, in collaboration with LaLiga and Fundación LaLiga, hosted its first edition of Inspire Cup, which was launched in an effort to create a quality football platform for girls U-16 to compete.
Furthering the efforts to encourage girls to take part in sports, Rural Development Trust’s (RDT) sport for development sector, Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) partnered with LaLiga, through its Foundation and women’s football department. ASA-RDT has been making great strides in promoting sports in rural parts of India. This year, in collaboration with LaLiga, the Inspire Cup was created to promote football for girls from different parts of the country.
The partnership between Anantapur Sports Academy and FUNDACIÓN LaLiga, started in 2018-19, with an aim to provide equitable opportunities for boys and girls from rural communities in Anantapur District to access sports and exercise their right to play. In 2021-22, the RDT – LaLiga partnership created access for 2,556 children to play football through residential and grassroots programs.
ASA-RDT and LaLiga understand that exposure and competition are essential to improve the quality of sport. Taking into consideration that not many avenues are available to compete for girls under the age of 16, ASA-RDT and LaLiga created the Inspire Cup, a pan-India football platform for U-16 girls to compete and gain exposure while breaking gender stereotypes and gaining confidence.
The first edition of the Inspire Cup was organized in Anantapuramu from 5 to 9 July 2022, where five teams from four different states participated. Gajwel FC - Telangana, YSR Sports School team - Kadapa, Life Sports FC - Chennai, Compassion FC - Goa, and ASA Girls Team – Anantapur competed against each other in the tournament.
85 girls participated in the tournament, where they not only played against other teams but also had the opportunity to exchange ideas and interact with children from various cultures. “For us, it was important that children spoke with each other. We organized cultural exchange programs in leisure hours to enable dialogue, and we saw children and coaches talking about challenges and opportunities in their areas with regard to football. There was a lot of learning for different clubs on how to improve, grow and expand the football culture in their respective areas,” said Dada Khalandar, Football Manager at Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA).
The first kick-off started on 5 July and the finals were held on 9 July. Compassion FC from Goa won the championship by defeating ASA Girls’ team, with 1-0. The winning team captain Vinoska Fernandez said, “I and the girls are happy to be part of this cup, we are grateful for the opportunity and I congratulate all the teams who participated. We look forward to the next edition.” Talking about the tournament, Prakash Khatri, the coach of Compassion FC said, “The Inspire Cup is an opportunity for our team to gain exposure and compete with girls from various parts of the country. We are excited to bag the cup amidst tough competition. ”
ASA-RDT believes that the Inspire Cup will encourage many girls to continue pursuing football and provide them a platform showcase their skills. Sai Krishna Pulluru, Director of RDT Sport for Development Sector said, “We feel honoured to host this tournament for U-16 girls, especially when there are not many platforms available for U-16 girls to compete. We believe that there is a lot of potential in India especially in football and this Inspire Cup gives girls the opportunity to showcase their skills. We thank La Liga and FUNDACIÓN LaLiga for joining our efforts in making this possible.”