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The Australian believes that the infrastructure developed for the said competition would leave a legacy for future generations…

Scott O’Donell, the technical director of academies, believes that should India win the hosting rights of the U-17 World Cup, it would provide a huge fillip to the development process starting from the grassroots.

South Africa, Indonesia, Ireland, Uzbekistan are also said to be in the mix having shown an interest in hosting the youth competition. Last week the government of India backed the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) bid to host by providing guarantees on tax exemption, security, transport and accommodation of players, visa and foreign exchange.

“It would provide a huge boost for football all over India, particularly at the Grassroots level. Obviously it provides a huge incentive for all concerned, particularly for those boys born in 2000 and 2001,” he told Goal.

“We have to start somewhere, and in my personal opinion this could be the trigger that helps kick-start Indian football from the grassroots level, youth development right through to the I-League. The interest and excitement of hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup will hopefully bring everyone together with the goal of fielding a competitive team for the U-17 World Cup,” he added.

Should India win the hosting rights of the 2017 U-17 World Cup, India shall participate as the host nation which leads one to the next question. Whether there is a plan ready for the boys to compete in the said competition?

“Obviously the details will need to be discussed with Rob Baan (AIFF technical director) and Kushal Das (AIFF general secretary), but we already have an Academy in Goa for the boys born in 2000 that has been in operation since February this year. These boys have already competed in the AFC U-14 Championships in Iran this year, so that will have given them an opportunity to get a feel for what international football is all about,” he mentioned.

“We are in the process of planning to conduct national championships for this same age group later in the year in order for us to pick the best of the best from each State to form another academy or two for this age group.”

On being asked the challenges involved in India winning the bid, O’Donnell listed infrastructure and providing technical assistance as the two major issues which need to be taken care of.

“The infrastructure needs to be improved, not just the stadiums but also the training venues. But as we have seen in previous U-17 World Cups, this will leave a legacy for future generations. Another challenge will be to give our young players the best possible preparation for this competition which will be no doubt be the biggest challenge of their short playing careers.”