India is the currently the apple of the eye of international youth football, having hosted a crazily wonderful U-17 World Cup.
India, against numerous and boy, they were massive, odds, have managed to host one of the best World Cups in the history of the name, albeit at the youth level. A lot of people would be mumbling and rumbling over the age group factor, but it has been prevalent for the last 30-odd years and now that it has come to the country, they’ve sat up and noticed.
Here, in this piece, we take a look at five things that will never be the same again as India proudly flaunts being the best host of any U-17 World Cup, ever.
‘India cannot host major tournaments’
Ever since the Commonwealth Games fiasco, involving pilferage of around INR 70,000 crore, India was looked, both internally and externally as a country that could host major tournaments perfectly well, but organizers would certainly make money out of it, negatively affecting the nation and implicating corruption on its image.
The FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 has broken that trend, and with FIFA’s massive co-operation and support, India have successfully hosted one of the best major tournaments without a hiccup. Yes, the Assam state Government official drama and the shifting of the second semi-final from Guwahati to Kolkata might look like some issues, but they were too minuscule when compared to the enormity of the tournament.
‘Where’s football at the grassroots; and where’s the infrastructure?’
People who’ve questioned the love and acceptance for the game have probably never seen a coconut being kicked on the road amongst a group of young kids. That’s football, a different version because their parents don’t approve of the game. India, in a little but surely in a positive way, look to have come out and accepted the game.
With Mission XI Million being one of the many success stories associated with the build-up to the tournament, the game reached millions and the numbers show (13, 47, 133 is a massive number at youth level). The training grounds, six for each venue, need to be maintained well and help in developing the game. If you’ve watched India’s games and you feel patriotic and goose-bumpy at the same time, don’t sit back home and be a social media warrior.
Go out, play the game, with anyone you can. Don’t hurt anyone, but play it hard. Try imitating the defensive sturdiness of Anwar Ali, the calmness of Sanjeev Stalin, the speed of Boris Singh, the headed goal of Jeakson Singh, and the control of both Rahul KP and Ninthoiganba. Also, don’t forget to save your friends like Dheeraj.
‘India transformed to a ‘footballing country’ from ‘a sleeping giant’: Credits-FIFA’
After 1950 and 1964 AFC Asian Cup, Indian football missed a step and probably fell into a deep pit, too dark to crawl back. It suddenly came back in the 2000s and started its journey to traverse back into the semi-elite at least in the continent, if not at the global stage. FIFA, that had termed India as a ‘sleeping giant’ for years now, admitted that the game is here to stay, and India is set to take the next step.
FIFA’s Documentary on Indian football
Happily enough, the senior national team are on the right track at the right time, having qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 with two games in hand. The Blue Tigers are on the right track and with the FIFA World Cup being a massive success, they can expect tremendous support in the remaining AFC qualifiers against Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic.
‘What would happen if India faced Colombia and England? They’d lose 12-0’
If you’ve discussed Indian football with a European Football fanatic, you’ve surely received this quote as a rebuttal. ‘If they face France, Germany or even Mexico, they’d concede a dozen and would fail to score any.’ Now is the time, now is your time. Go out to that guy, and tell him, “India lost 2-1 against Colombia – a very close affair, a country which prides itself with Juan Cuadrado, Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez.”
Make sure you also tell them and approve a reality, “We know that we’re not even close to the best in the world, but we’re there to set a challenge. With better physical conditioning and mental strength, we could be so much better and the work has started. You need to step out of the box and support the Tigers.”
FIFA TV: The U-17 World Cup – A journey
When you’re done, take them out and play football with them, because after all, it’s the game that keeps and binds us together.
‘Hey, you’re an Indian football fan, right? What next? National team games without any broadcast’
Yes, if someone crosses your way and tells you this, don’t be miffed. He’s just referring to our past. Tell him we’ve moved on. India’s U-16 team will be playing the AFC U-16 tournament in 2018, having qualified after drawing goalless against Asian Champions Iraq.
The boys that made us proud are in Qatar at the moment and will be heading to Saudi Arabia, to play the qualifiers for the AFC U-19 Championships. With India having bid for the U-20 World Cup as well, this team will need to be at its absolute best to continue the footballing revolution.
The senior team is set to be on a long run and will be playing Myanmar next month. Every game involving the national team will be broadcast on the Star Network, and fans can follow the heroes that bleed hard and blue. And the journey’s not just begun, it’s just taken a higher step, saying Indian football is here to stay.