Kushal Das, the general secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), stated that should India win the hosting rights for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, it could play a crucial role in changing the fortunes of the most popular game in the country.
"The Under-17 World Cup in India could certainly be a big game changer for the country. We have to perform well. We have to atleast be competitive," said Das.
Speaking at a panel discussion on 'Successful Initiatives and Way Forward is Soccer', organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Das expressed his confidence that the tournament would be very beneficial to India.
"Some of the academies we are establishing are targeted to train players for the U-17 World Cup," he said, "If India can compete with the best in the world, it will be a huge fillip for the game in our country. It will give impetus to the youth development and the profile of the game as a whole."
"We've got necessary documents and guarentees from the goverment required under the strict FIFA guidelines," he mentioned on India's bid to host the U-17 World Cup.
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke had earlier mentioned that India could host the U-17 World Cup in 2017, during his visit to India, which Das highlighted as an encouraging sign for India.
"We will submit a bid later this month or early next month. The FIFA Executive Committee will decide on the host in December in Japan (during the Club World Championship)." he said.
India will have eight football academies by next year and two elite academies by 2014, he stated.
"Under AIFF the grassroot level is 8-12 years age group, and we will be having all eight regional academies up by next year to cater to the 14-16 year group. We plan to have two elite academies for 16-18 year age group by 2014."
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