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160 schools for state junior soccer meet

Calcutta: The spotlight is back on junior soccer. Inter-school soccer will be back in a big way with nearly 160 schools vying for the Peerless Trophy, to be held in 21 districts (three district zones for Calcutta itself — South, North and Central) from Friday to November 30.

Peerless General Finance & Investment Co. Ltd will be holding this meet to commemorate 70 years of its existence (Friday will be the firm’s 71st foundation day), in association with Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club.

This will be the two organisations’ second joint venture, the first being almost 20 years back.

The schools (eight from each district) will provide under-16 footballers, in the 107-point category (1 point per kg and 1 point per inch) and all of the meet will be in the knockout format.

The champions and runners-up in each district will get trophies, but only the champions from each district will advance to the quarter finals. That too will be a knockout affair.

The semi-finals will be held in Suri (Birbhum district) and in Krishnanagar, Nadia.

The final will be held at the Rabindra Sarovar stadium. There will be no cash prizes, only trophies and facilities like transport and tiffin and jerseys and balls.

The company’s managing director S.K. Roy said he has not decided if this would be an annual affair (“let’s see how it works out,” he said) but said such meets would be policy for the company.

“We have already got a proposal from south India on an inter-university meet.”

Whatever the fallout of the meet, the immediate beneficiary would be the districts. West Bengal District Sports Federation secretary Suhas Bose said this would provide a “major impetus for the sport in the districts were the benefits of sponsorship are not felt.”

The knockout format is to enable the huge, 142-match affair to finish in good time, said a company executive.

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