A few months ago, my team and I met with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to discuss plans around the 2015 edition of the CII Soccerfest. While this this initiative has been termed as a “fest” in past editions, I can be honest in sharing that it has really been more of an incredible corporate football tournament than an actual festival. What has made it incredible in the past is the fact that the tournament takes place inside JNS in Delhi, a cavernous stadium upgraded for the 2010 Commonwealth Games which few “amateurs” ever get to experience as a participant.
This year we collectively made the decision that the 2015 CII Soccerfest will actual be a festival, multiple days of football, music and fun. So after months of planning, the event finally took place and it was exactly what we had envisioned – hundreds of Delhiites enjoying the beautiful game while basking in the comforts of the warm winter sun.
Beyond including youth and womens divisions in the tournament, the biggest enhancement to this edition of the Soccerfest was the STAR night. This event, hosted the night before the tournament, included discussions around football with dignitaries, an engaging panel discussion with Indian football stars Baichung Bhutia, Rehenesh TP and Gourmangi Singh as well as my favourite part of the night: the 32 team corporate draw where young men from local NGOs were also selected to join the corporate teams.
So I would go as far as saying that the entire CII Soccefest was a win. A win for CII, a win for Libero Sports, a win for the local NGOs and a win for all those who had the opportunity to participate in this unique event. Honestly, it warmed my heart seeing these 16-17 year old boys from the slums of Delhi, getting the opportunity to represent the likes of major brands such as Barclays, HDFC, PwC, etc… and, more importantly, proving that they are better footballers than most of the corporate employees who had access to much more while growing up.
So the only loss of the whole event had to do with the shambles of my own team on the pitch. We had two matches on Saturday and lost them both. It hurts me to even type this right now. We lost to GroupM, the eventual Champions Cup champions, 2-3 in a match where I missed 2 easy goal-scoring opportunities. Then we lost to Sports Illustrated, the eventual Challengers Cup hampions, 2-5 in a match where we just did not have the mental toughness to play through the final whistle.
While I was happy about the overall success of the 2015 edition of the CII Soccerfest, an event where Libero Sports served as the Knowledge Partners, the competitor in me could not help but be disappointed on Saturday evening and all day Sunday. The worst thing was not only watching a team you should have beat win the Championship, but actually having to be the person to announce them as the winners while serving closing ceremony MC. Just painful.
I’m trying to look at this as just another opportunity to see where my gaps are in terms of my own physical development (aka I’m out of shape!!!) and actually learn how to lose gracefully which has never been my strong suit.
Now time to start training for 2016 CII Soccerfest….