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47% of India's population revealed as football fans, as GIFT begins

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The Goa International Football Table began yesterday at Goa’s Marriott Resort & Spa. The two day event will tackle various aspects of Indian football such as the infrastructure at the grassroot level, Indian football development, the creation of a new sport in Beach Soccer, and the efficient use of stadium infrastructure. Also on the agenda will be talent development, community development, marketing and sponsorship, and upgrading our competition.

Sonali Chander was the host for the event, and the summit started of with the introduction of Stanislaus D’Souza, Dr. Robin Petersen, Rajeev Piramal, Jovito Lopes and Sioulas Anastasios.

Petersen, CEO, South African Football Development Agency & Ex-CEO South African Football Association, enlightened the crowd present about the current footballing scenario in South Africa.

“Football has an incredible power to unite countries, and to achieve success in football, funds have to be created along with business, government and football partners. This success would change the nation forever,” he said.

He also shared a technical master plan for South Africa in 2022, which he believes will create a virtuous cycle of success and would unite the nation in their national pride.

Owner of Pune SC, Rajeev Piramal, also the Vice Chairman and MD of Peninsula Land Ltd., in his opening statement said: “There is lot to learn from the SAFA, but at the end of the day, they are our competitors.”

Piramal also pointed out that improving stadiums wouldn’t alone help the sport in the nation, and proper medical facilities, coaching as well as other facilities were also important.

Goa Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar, who also used to play the sport regularly during his school days, described football in a nutshell: “Football gets you through life besides work.”

Dr. Rufino Monteiro, Chairman, Goa Football Development Council, thanked Parrikar for supporting the cause, and praised his commitment towards making football the official sport of the state.

He further added: “Goa’s aim is to produce good players and that GFDC is working towards it. Studies done in Indian cities reveal that football now attracts three times as many viewers as cricket, more so because today’s youth want a fast, exciting game and 90 minutes of football ideally fits into their hectic lifestyle.

“A Nielsen survey in 2010 found that 47% of India’s over 1.2 billion population described themselves as football fans. Interestingly, football also attracts the second highest sports sponsorship in India, out-ranking tennis, badminton, boxing, wrestling and athletics where India boasts of world class athletes, some even champions. There is so much to do to develop football in India.”

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