After last season’s success, the Hindustan Times Great Indian Football Action (HT GIFA) returns this year as the country’s biggest inter-locality event.GIFA, a competition consisting of 446 teams drawn from various schools and residential areas of Delhi and NCR, is one of the biggest football events that the city is hosting.
The opening ceremony, held on Sunday, 20 September 2015, was a glitzy affair with more than 15,000 football enthusiasts turning up at the Tau Devilal Stadium in Gurgaon.
The ceremony was high on star power with actors Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson and cricketer Virender Sehwag present. Anchor-actor Manish Paul hosted the event.
What also got the crowd going was the Bollywood fusion mix performed by popular band Astitva, and remixes by DJ Sumit Sethi.
The numbers involved in the tournament are staggering. Here’s a look at some of them
Delhi Public School (DPS), RK Puram tamed Invincibles FC while Ultimate Warriors prevailed over APJ United as the curtains came down on the fortnight-long Hindustan Times Great Indian Football Action (GIFA) at the DPS, RK Puram ground in New Delhi on Sunday.
In the senior group, it was a battle of nerves between the DPS boys and Invincibles, but ultimately the former triumphed 4-3 (1-1 after regulation time) to stamp their authority in the seven-a-side tournament.Those who missed Sunday’s enthralling action would have said that DPS had the home advantage, but it was indeed an arduous journey to the top for the hosts, who had to dig into their reserves at crucial junctures in the semifinal and final.
Beginning with the first match of their final-round journey, the DPS boys weren’t the favourites. However, perseverance helped them overcome the stiff challenge posed by GG Boys FC, who dominated a major part of the contest, to enter the top-eight stage.
Before that, DPS had to go through some anxious moments. After struggling in the initial stages, Vineet Chaudhari and Anant Sharma tricked the rival defence to score a goal each and help DPS march ahead.
The challenge in the quarterfinals was tougher as the DPS boys ran into Vishal Megamart Barca Boys, one of the teams fancied to win the title. However, things never went the Barca Boys’ way as they fumbled. Perhaps, it had something to do with overconfidence. On the other hand, DPS managed to hold the rivals goalless in the first half. While it was a morale-boosting win for DPS, it was frustrating for a team that had been tipped to win the event.
The Barca Boys failed to control the ball, and that prevented them from making constructive moves, thus putting paid to their aspirations.
All credit went to DPS for containing the Barca Boys in the second half as well. After a goalless draw, the teams went into the shootout, and again, it was advantage DPS, who exhibited calmness to march into the semis with a 3-2 margin.
DPS principal, DR Saini, who witnessed the final, said it was an exciting affair. “The tournament proved to be a golden opportunity for school-going students to exhibit their skills,” he said. Celebrations were put on hold as DPS students had to rush home to study for a Monday home test.
Former Chelsea player Florent Malouda, who plays for the Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League, was present on the occasion. Impressed by what he saw, the former France international said, “The event is good for grassroots development. I hope some of the players find a place in ISL in future.”