Argentina vs Venezuela in Kolkata: An Opportunity for Indian Football
The football fans of India are eagerly waiting to witness Messi-magic live at the Salt Lake Stadium of Kolkata on 2nd September 2011. An international friendly between Argentina and Venezuela is scheduled to be held at the city of Indian football on that day. It is a rare opportunity for the football crazy people of this country to watch Messi, Tevez, Milito at their pick. This initiative will certainly create an impact on the promotion of football in this country, but the question is whether the impact can be sustained for the long term development of Indian football.
The match has already created much hype among the football lovers of India. Considering the demand for this match, the Sports Minister of West Bengal has requested the organizers to reduce the ticket price so as to provide an opportunity to the common mass to experience football of international standard. The organizers are expecting a full-house which will ensure sufficient gate revenue and will create a positive image of Indian football.
Another important aspect of this initiative is the renovation of the Salt Lake Stadium with an objective to upgrade its facilities. The condition of the turf is properly monitored and maintained. Suggestions have already been made to introduce family boxes and corporate boxes. It seems that the infrastructure of Indian football will be improved only when an international match will be organized. If so, then it is desirable to organize international matches every year in different parts of the country for the development of football-specific infrastructure. The football fans of India may expect that similar initiatives will also be taken during the I-League and other tournaments organized by the AIFF and the State Associations.
Bayern Munich visited Kolkata in 2008 to play a match against Mohun Bagan. The match was attended by more than a lakh people. Observing the craze for football in India, the management of Bayern decided to set up a football academy in West Bengal. Unfortunately, the project was not implemented and no long-term association has been developed with the top-ranked club of the world. This example clearly indicates that the visit of Argentina will be made fruitful if a long-term association can be designed with the superpower of the world of football. We may expect that the administrators of Indian football will play a proactive role in converting this opportunity into a future strength for the promotion and development of football in this country.