Success of FIFA U-17 World Cup brings hope for football in India for foreseeable future

first_imgPreparations moved at full speed as the country braced for the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the start of October.Preparations, as suggested by many, commenced at such a level that it was fair to assume the All India Football Federation (AIFF) wanted to leave a lasting impression on world football.Three weeks on, the dream turns reality. With just two games left, the final and third place clashes in here, this edition of the Junior World Cup will be the best attended in all 17 editions held since 1985 in China.The tournament crossed the 1 million mark during the last round of 16 fixture on October 18 and the spectatorship at the stadiums currently stand at 12,24,027.Just to jog the reader’s memory, the attendance on Wednesday’s semi-final between England and Brazil stood at a staggering 63, 881 in a 66, 000 capacity Salt Lake stadium here.And with the kind of reception the Junior World Cup has earned in the City of Joy, it would perhaps be an understatement to proclaim the fans here will break the record of 12,30,976 spectatorship, set by the inaugural edition, in grand fashion.”It makes me really proud to say that the dream that AIFF and all our stakeholders had foreseen for Indian football has come true. It is fair to say that Indian football has finally arrived on world football scene. The kind of reception we received in all the six venues has been fantastic and it was also interesting to see girls and family coming in flocks to watch the match in the stadium,” expressed Praful Patel, AIFF president, on Thursday.advertisementEchoing his words was Jaime Yarza, FIFA head of tournaments. FIFA has received a positive feedback to their interest in developing football in the country and Yarza was walking on air when he described his satisfaction with the overall organisation of the event.”It has been three weeks since we started this journey and what has been achieved so far is a reflection of capabilities of the Indian people. It has been a fantastic ride for us and the overwhelming response we received is worth applauding.”It was amazing to see fans filling the stadiums and cheering all teams and not just Brazil, who have been huge favourites in this part of the country. Let me tell you, the countries that exited the tournament were more sad about leaving India than getting knocked out of the competition.”I would also like to congratulate the Indian team that played in the tournament. They give hope for a better future in football for the country,” he said.The progress doesn’t stop here. The process of taking this success to create an ideal ecosystem for the sport to sustain in the country has to exemplary and president Patel is assured of one.”We have invested heavily in organising this tournament and we need to continue the success we achieved so far.”I also spoke to the FIFA president (Gianni Infantino) about how the AIFF and the government want to take this forward and develop grassroots programs. We want to spread our grassroots programs all over the country and not just restrict it to a few states.”During this World Cup, we also saw a state governments come forward to show their support and a sense of building infrastructure has also prevailed among them. We will provide the best facilities and want to continue this U-17 team that played in the World Cup as one unit to build a team for the future,” he added.last_img read more