In what is a shot in the arm for Indian football, the government approved the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) request to bid for the 2017 U-17 World Cup hosting rights.
The decision prompted the who’s who of Indian football to pass on their opinions on the matter.
"Let's be honest, India will not play the real World Cup in near future. If our kids get a flavour of what's the standard of junior football worldwide, nothing like it. Now it's up to AIFF and the government to draw a long-term plan so that our boys can put up atleast a decent show," opined Subhash Bhowmick, who guided Churchill Brothers to I-League victory in the 2012-13 season, to PTI.
The veteran coach also called for more emphasis to be given to grooming players under the age of 14 so that they will be ready by 2017.
"Government's job won't end by just signing the file. Similarly, AIFF should now bother about the junior team. Talented boys aged around 13 plus should be tapped from the length and breadth of the country. But we shouldn't have long and arduous camps as that will spell doom for little boys," he stressed.
|Bhowmick called for increased development of the U-14 squad|
Another one of India’s legends P.K. Bannerjee expressed to The Telegraph that there wasn’t any better news than this for the time being.
"I am very happy to hear this wonderful news. Now, we have to go all out to make this a reality. The boys have to take this as a challenge and gear up to deliver within the four years' time-frame. By taking this one step we will help the country go two steps ahead. We have to keep taking such steps and the process must be maintained if you want to realise the dream of qualifying for the World Cup Finals," said the India legend.
1962 Asian Games winning football captain Chuni Goswami was no doubt ecstatic over the news. The 75-year old who knows the feeling of representing the country on the global level, feels that youngsters will get the exposure that they require playing against the very best in the world.
"This will leave a tremendous impact on the young footballers, and no doubt it would bring a revolution in Indian football which will get a quantum jump through if they eventually become the hosts (in 2017)," Goswami, who also led the country in the 1960 Rome Olympics said.
"Now having taken up the challenge, the big responsibility lies with the AIFF to provide good facilities, infrastructure to the boys. Being the host country, we would get an automatic qualification that will be the ultimate achievement as the boys will get to play with the best," he went to say.
He expects that if this turns into a reality, it will leave a lasting impression on the minds of the football lovers.
"No doubt, it will leave a big impact even as making the World Cup Finals remain a distant dream," Goswami added.
“Indian football has become a bit stale these days. A massive push is needed to bring the game back in the limelight,” said Churchill Brothers SC coach Sukhwinder Singh to The Telegraph.
It was not only the players of yesteryear who were ecstatic on hearing the news. Some of India’s well known footballers who are currently plying their trade in the I-League took time to express their happiness to The Telegraph.
“It’s the best thing to happen in Indian football. I always believed Indian boys could match the best in the world at the junior level,” said Dempo and former India defender Mahesh Gawli.
“It’s big news for football in our country. I believe we were in desperate need of such a boost,” opined East Bengal midfielder Mehtab Hussain.
“Considering the present scenario of Indian football, no other news can be any greater than India playing host to the under-17 World Cup,” said Syed Rahim Nabi.