Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, announced on the first day of his trade mission to India the names of four young soccer players (footballers) from Mumbai, who are to head to London soon to train with the Queens Park Rangers.
Khan was joined by Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor who is also the co-owner of the Mumbai City football club and Tony Fernandes, the Chairman of Queens Park Rangers.
Khan said that this is the first year in which two girls and two boys have been selected.
“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,” said Khan.
“The power of sport in bringing people together and encouraging healthy competition is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, once you’re on the pitch, on the court, in the ring or on the track how well you do is down to the drive and talent of the individual and their team – and those valuable lessons are transferable to so many other situations in life,” he added.
The initiative was brought on by politician and former Indian Minister of State, Milind Deora, who said that the selected children were chosen from a pool of 1,000 who took part in the soccer challenge and will spend 10 days training with QPR at their academy in Cranford, England, next year.
“I am grateful to London Mayor Sadiq Khan our chief guest for today. Sadiq’s presence is huge encouragement to us and the kids. In the last 9 years we have strived to create a level playing field for those kids who have keen interest in football. Year after year we have realised the wonderful talent Mumbai kids have in playing football. I deeply appreciate Queen Park Rangers for their continued support and our innumerable sponsors who have been great encouragement,” said Deora.
“QPR is a football club with the community at its heart. While most of our charitable efforts are focussed on our home in West London, we are delighted that the Mayor of London has come to visit one of our fantastic international projects. I’m particularly delighted that next year we will host some Indian girls as well as boys at Loftus Road. Girls’ and women’s football is a big growth area for us, and we look forward to working with the Mayor and the GLA to promote it even further in London in the years ahead,” said Fernandes.
“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,” said Kapoor.
Khan’s trade mission to India is a part of his continued drive to create jobs, skills and growth in London.