How Indian football will benefit from the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup
With over a week left for the much awaited FIFA U-17 World Cup to kick-off in Delhi, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, we are in for a 22-day football extravaganza. With tickets sold out in many of the host venues, the success of the biennial event is inevitable. But for a country like India, where football is not so popular, it has to look at the long-term benefits which it can achieve by virtue of this tournament.
Even if the Indian team go through to the knockout stages of the competition, the whole experience of brushing shoulders against the best of the lot and hosting the matches will help India to develop them as a better footballing nation in the future.
Let us have a look at how India will be benefited from after the FIFA Under-17 World Cup:
#1 The biggest football tournament the country has ever hosted
This is by far the biggest football tournament in the country. The 2008 AFC Challenger Cup was probably the last time the country saw a few quality teams visiting the country. The “Blue Tigers” won that tournament and earned a ticket to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 27 years.
To be true this is the biggest tournament that India is ever being a part of. Previously, the Indian qualified for the 1950 World Cup but did not participate due to various financial reasons. So, after 67 years, they are getting an opportunity to participate in a major FIFA event and even host it. It is unlikely that the Indians will be a contender for the championship but they have nothing to lose and the experience they will gain will be priceless. A total of 23 nations will visit India and 6 venues will host 52 matches across 6 cities.
In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri said, "It will be a test of India’s ability to organize a big-ticket event and I believe we will do well. Everyone in the country needs to come together to make it a successful event. The whole world is watching and we cannot afford to fall short of any front.”