We have dreamt about it. We have thought of a hundred possibilities of how it would be if India ever plays in the FIFA World Cup. Well, the wait is over and the dream has come true. As the world gathers and cheer for their respective teams, India will create history as they kick off today at 8 pm against the USA in New Delhi for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
FIFA U-17 has paved the way for a lot of young Indian talent to join the game. In a country where cricket is religion, all other sports especially football is highly overshadowed, the tournament comes as a blessing for Indian football to rise from the ashes and take their rightful place in world football.
Any expert would dismiss India in this tournament as ‘outing for children’ and would likely have the opinion that the boys might not even make it through the group stage. But what is important to remember is that this exposure on the big stage against the best in the world is crucial for players to dream big, evolve their game, gain experience and above all improve football facilities in the country.
Since the draw in Mumbai earlier this year, AIFF, the governing body for football in India has put in efforts to make the tournament a grand success. In association with FIFA, the AIFF has rebuilt and renovated six stadiums in the country and has provided state of the art facilities in each one of them. Before the U-17 announcement was made there were notably one or two stadiums in the country that would have matched the FIFA standards.India has also benefited from FIFA’s pitch improvement programme, under which some groundsmen have been trained by FIFA experts. The number of ‘A’ license coaches and referees are a handful in India. Such programs have not only provided with better off-field works in football but have also provided the groundwork for building and nurturing a better team than ever before.Currently 107 in the Coca-cola FIFA rankings, the U-17 tournament is opening new doors for the development of football in India and is helping the country to emerge as a major football playing nations.