A file photo of former Sri Lanka cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya. (Getty Images)
Into its third edition, the Stairs School Football League (SSFL) beginning October 19 will see more than 10,000 school level footballers from 300 schools of Delhi NCR playing for glory.
This year, former Sri Lankan explosive batsman Sanath Jayasuriya has been named brand ambassador of the tournament.
SSFL-3 will begin with league matches at over 15 different venues across four zones in Delhi. The finals will be played at the Thyagraj Stadium. A total of 250 matches will be played during the entire programme.
All the participating teams will have to go through the qualifier rounds.
SSFL aligns itself with the FIFA rules of football for boys and girls between 14-17 years of age.
"Stairs School Football League is seen as a game changer in the football journey of the country. This year we have added STAIRS football academics in various parts of Delhi and plan to open in Gujarat as well. This will further speed the process of producing champions in the country," says Siddhartha Upadhyay, Founder and Secretary General of NGO STAIRS.
On Jayasuriya's association, he says, "Sanath Jayasuriya along with his team members changed the way cricket is being played, they bought glory to their country and this was only possible because of a strong system they had created. We are happy to have him as the brand ambassador as we feel that we have a lot to learn from a sportsman of his calibre and passion."
Jayasuriya is excited about his involvement with the tournament.
"As a sportsperson I understand the importance of involving children in sports and the need for strengthening of sports at the grassroots level. I am happy to be a part of the initiative undertaken by STAIRS for building a sporting ecosystem at the grass-roots level in India," he says.
SSFL adopts a four-pronged strategy for talent identification that involves nurturing of the talent and making them eligible for representation in national and international competitions. The league intends to develop a well-organised grass-roots youth development program, through an organised championship format that will be committed towards structured professional training.
STAIRS bagged the 'Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar 2016' award in recognition of its contribution towards the 'Identification and Nurturing of Budding and Young Talent' in India.