As many die-hard football aficionados must already be knowing, India has won the bid to host the Under 17 FIFA World Cup in 2017! As for those who didn’t know about that, well, you do so now.
Image : AIFF’s Logo
All in all, this is great news for the Indian footballing fraternity as well as for the development of the sport in India. After all, the not only will this bring some of the world’s best young talent to play in India and give the Indian audiences a first look at the future stars of football, but it will also pit the Indian U-17 team against the best that the world has to offer, which will indubitably be an important part of their footballing development and maturity. More importantly, the current Indian U-16 crop is highly rated and by the time the tournament rolls over, they could even be in a good position to win the whole thing!
With the eyes of the world’s best scouts and footballing regimes on the youth which will be on show during this tournament, here are a few things that the AIFF should take care of to ensure the success of the tournament – and for having a positive long term effect on the sport here:
Improving the Infrastructure
Sounds something which the AIFF would obviously do, right? Well, don’t be too sure. Even with the ISL and all the media attention that it got, the infrastructure could still have been improved upon. In places like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi or the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, the seats are so far off from the action that it becomes difficult for the fan to spot the action happening on the far side. Perhaps moving the seats closer to the action or bringing the pitch closer to the stands such as in many European stadia would be possible.
But beyond this, the playing surface has to be in perfect shape not only for the match day but also for practices leading up to the games. More importantly, the playing turf, the stadia, the fitness and training facilities, all of them should be maintained in top condition leading to the tournament and this should be continued long after the tournament ends if it is to be useful to the development of Indian football.
Make sure all the facilities are of an internationally approved standard so that when the foreign delegates and teams arrive, not only will they be impressed, but the top club level as well as FIFA decision makers will look at India as a viable venue for future events as well.
Marketing the Event Appropriately
Marketing does not mean spending millions on ads and the like. Instead, the AIFF should take this as an opportunity to market this spectacle to the Indian footballing fans directly. Make them see this as an opportunity to gaze at future stars, to take part in the sport at a visceral level, and to support the National Team in their first major tournament as they take on the world’s heavyweights. Gathering a good crowd may lead to more endorsements, sponsors for the future, but more importantly, it may also make parents look at football as a viable option in India and let their kids indulge in the sports more seriously.
The AIFF should make sure to provide state-of-the-art facilities and equipment available for the tournament.
Data & Analysis
This is specifically to help the Indian NT. The playing style of the opposition teams should be researched and analysed, as should ours, and the gathered data should then be used by the coaching staff to better our players and improve them in any areas that they may be lacking. Statistics is playing a growing role in football and this would be quite helpful in the long run as well.
TV & Broadcast Deals
Make sure that interested channels get the TV rights to broadcast the tournament everywhere, making it easier for interested folks to see the games, instead of having to rely on some grainy, live stream put up by some poor chap, as usually happens. Again, this will be helpful in bringing the sport into limelight and giving the viewers a peek into the world of youngsters as they begin climbing the footballing ladder. After all, who wouldn’t love to later on say that they were the first to see the next Messi or Ronaldo in action, live or otherwise?
There’s a lot more that can be done to make the U 17 World Cup in India a success, this is just the foundation on which later plans can be built. But if done rightly, this could be the place where India truly announces itself as a footballing powerhouse, both on field, as well as off it.