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MUMBAI SOCCER CHALLENGE WINNERS SELECTED BY QPR

CHRIS Ramsey and co. returned from India this week fresh from selecting this year’s winners of the Mumbai Soccer Challenge for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to QPR.

Ramsey, the R’s Head of Player Development and Academy Manager, was one of two coaches casting their eye over the country's largest football community tournament last weekend.

The Championship – taking place for the sixth successive year – served as a talent hunt during November, whittling down 50 youngsters aged 12-14 year-old from thousands shortlisted for a coaching clinic conducted exclusively by the R’s coaching teams later this season.

With two places up for grabs, Sunil Tulsiram Rathod and Sunil Mohan Rathod were selected as the winners – whilst Sitaram Nehru Rathod secured a third spot to be sponsored by the R’s Academy.

“It was a host of things that made them catch our eye,” Ramsey told www.qpr.co.uk. “Not only their ability, but their personality and their ability to adapt within a group. They were hungry to learn and showed signs of improvement through sheer determination which was great to see.

“It was an outstanding experience.”

This year, the tournament witnessed around 6,000 boys and girls from over 130 schools representing close to 700 teams, playing over approximately 900 matches with teams in the under-10, under-12, under-14 and under-16 age categories.

The event is the brainchild of Programme Director Sanjiv Saran Mehra, in conjunction with Rangers vice-chairman Amit Bhatia, Milind Deora, a Member of Parliament from the South Mumbai constituency, and Andy Evans, CEO of QPR in the Community Trust.

Alex Carroll, Head of Business & Operations within the Academy, joined Ramsey for the R’s latest trip and was proud to see the club’s fast-growing ‘legacy’ – not just on the pitch, but off it too.

“You can see the legacy that’s been left in Mumbai from previous initiatives the Community Trust have run over there,” Carroll added.

“We certainly seem to be very popular figures and it was great to see so many people, not only the players involved in the scheme, but people in the street wearing the QPR logo on their shirts.

“It’s good to see the brand is growing in Asia.”

The pair were supported by three of the four coaches who recently represented QPR at the Premier League Live fan park event having come through the Trust's Scort programme, which has coached over 30 young participants in India over the last 12 months.

As for the winners, they can now look forward to an unforgettable trip to west London later this season, when the trio will spend two weeks with the R’s Academy, including a visit to Harlington to meet the First Team before watching a live Premier League match at Loftus Road.

“We’ll try and give them an in-depth experience into the professional game in England, which will be a new experience for them,” Carroll added.

“We’ll get them training with the Academy as well as getting them involved in some matches.

"It will also be about the cultural experience, coming to London and Loftus Road and taking in the atmosphere for a First Team game. Hopefully it will be really rewarding for them.”

Meanwhile, one of last year’s winners – Kamran Ansari – has this month been shortlisted for trials for the National Under-15 Academy by the All India Football Federation.