FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: The prestige of the country is at stake, says DY Patil stadium head Dr. Vijay Patil
"Let me put it this way: FIFA has a very comprehensive checklist of parameters which need to be complied with in terms of hosting international matches."
Dr. Vijay Patil, president of the DY Patil Sports Academy, has hosted a number of international cricket matches and concerts at his state-of-the-art DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai. Yet he admits that that preparing for the upcoming FIFA U17 World Cup presented challenges of a different kind.
With India set to host a World Cup for the first time ever, it was never going to be easy. But Dr. Patil believes in looking at the positive side of things. Not one to be bogged down by negativity, he believes the nation as a whole must strive to make the tournament a successful one.
"The intent of the city, the excitement and passion is very clear. Everybody wants to put their best foot forward. Ultimately the prestige of the country is dependent on this tournament. The world is looking at India," he stated.
While every stadium had its fair share of complexities in ensuring they adhered to FIFA's high standards, Dr. Patil believes that DY Patil stadium had an edge over the others.
"When we built the stadium in 2006, we introduced very innovative features - individual seating, fabric roofs, quality lighting, drainage systems, turf management systems. Those were not best practices for the other stadiums in India," he said.
The stadium itself has undergone massive changes. Four football grounds have been built around the city of Navi Mumbai. Two of them have been built by DY Patil sports academy while the other two have been constructed by Navi Mumbai Sports Association and the Municipal Corporation respectively.
"The greatest benefit of this tournament will be the fact that the city will now have so many grounds. Usually, infrastructure in our city is built over decades; to have these four grounds built in a span of one year is a positive contribution," Dr. Patil explained.
The seats at the DY Patil stadium have been revamped. New seats from South Korea were imported, and additional dressing rooms were created. A high amount of civil and architectural changes can be observed in what now looks like a splendid football stadium.
Pop sensation Justin Bieber recently performed at the stadium, which raised concerns about the quality of the pitch. However, Dr. Patil put those fears to rest by stating that the DY Patil stadium is capable of hosting multiple international events due to the expertise at their disposal.
News about fresh grass being laid has also been doing the rounds on social media, but Dr. Patil revealed that this wasn't the case. It all came down to effective turf management.
"This is a multifunctional venue; we have the flexibility to turn over our stadium rapidly. You could have an international cricket match being played and within a week or two, we are prepared to host a football match or even a music concert," he stated.