Can the FIFA U-17 World Cup turn out to be a game changer for Indian football?
The recently concluded FIFA Under-17 World Cup witnessed some intriguing contests throughout the entire campaign, which kept the fans on the edge of their seats. The 23-day extravaganza saw some superlative performances from some of the most exciting raw talents from across the globe. The event created a lot of hype, which could turn out to be a shot in the arm for Indian football as it was a historic moment for the entire nation.
Fans all over the country witnessed some of the most exciting contests which they will cherish for long. As per TRP ratings, the tournament was rated as the most watched youth event ever in the sport. In fact, it actually surpassed the ratings of the Confederations Cup 2017, English Premier League 2016-17 and La-Liga 2016-17.
Indian football, especially the junior circuit, was craving for such an event to be hosted in India, which could promote the game at the grassroots level. The tournament could certainly provide a much-needed boost in terms of popularity amongst the teenagers between 15-20 years of age. The event also provided a great opportunity to some of our younger players coming from humble backgrounds to showcase their talent in front of the home crowd.
As per recent reports, some of our young players have already signed contracts with some clubs in the Indian Super League as the franchises were quite keen to sign some of these shining talents. Social media too played a significant role in promoting the event.
Even though India couldn't make it to the knockout rounds in the World Cup, what we saw in the tournament that there is no dearth of talent in our country. Now the onus is on the All India Football Federation to nurture these talents by providing them with the right infrastructure that will bring them at par with the players of some higher-ranked teams.
The AIFF has also recently inducted a new team in this season’s I-League called the Indian Arrows that will consist of the players who recently played in the Under-17 World Cup. It is a great initiative by the AIFF as these players will get some hands-on experience that will ultimately help them upgrade their skills by playing against some seasoned campaigners who have gained loads of experience by playing in the I-League.
They should be sent more on exposure tours which will boost their confidence,that they can perform at the highest level. More corporates should be brought in to make these players financially stable. The youth system should be properly structured in order to produce players, who could play at the highest level. The clubs who sign these players should also ensure that they get enough game time while playing for these clubs rather then spending time on the bench.
There should be transparency as far as the utilization of funds is concerned. All these steps should be implemented in an organized manner which will further help in enhancing the game in our country which is slowly reaching the desired heights. A step in this direction will do a world of good for the sport and its future in the country.