The AIFF President stressed that the real test for Indian football starts now and also mentioned that stadiums with artificial turfs won't be given preference for the World Cup..Speaking at the first press conference after the announcement of the success of the U-17 World Cup bid, Praful Patel stressed that the real test for India lies in what happens next and not what has already happened.
“Winning the right to host the U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 was a lesser challenge. The bigger challenge of actually hosting the showpiece lies ahead” he said.
“We have to make sure that the success of the tournament is in line with the development of Indian football in the long run. It’s not only about the rankings, we have to ensure football is the number one sport in the country and for that to happen the platform has been laid,” added the All India Football Federation (AIFF) President.
“It will be a landmark event for India which will redefine Indian football from now on and for many more decades to come. At AIFF we have always maintained that grassroots is the only way forward and for the sustainable future of our football we need youngsters to train in the best environment. This is the ideal motivation for all the youngsters, the drive to push them for the ultimate.”
Asked about how the preparation will go about for the U-17 World Cup, Patel stated that only the best will get to don the Indian colours and the federation will make sure that more and more academies are started to get the best talent from India.
“We may convert one of our academies into a team dedicated for the U-17 World Cup in 2017. We will send youth teams to more exposure trips abroad to have a feel of how the top countries around the globe play. As far as the venues are concerned, we will not compromise as we are in no position to do that. FIFA is very strict with venues and only the best stadia will host the World Cup.”
The tournament which is contested by 24 teams will be played in six venues which are to be shortlisted from eight cities -- Delhi, Goa, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata, Mumbai, Kochi, and Guwahati.
The AIFF President said that only the natural turfs will be given preference and not the artificial turfs, even though in the shortlist their are stadiums who have artificial turfs.
“Natural turfs will be preferred to artificial ones and the state associations must get their act together from tomorrow,” he opined.
India got the better of Ireland, 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa and Uzbekistan to get the final nod from FIFA’s executive committee at the Resort Town of Costa Do Sauipe in Brasil.
“It was not an easy task. Getting the guarantees from the government of India and convincing FIFA that India indeed does have the ability and is serious about hosting the U-17 World Cup was tough. I am thankful to FIFA that it has recognised India’s determination and persuasion to give it to India ahead of many other contenders.”
The President also announced that there will be a dedicated team working for the U-17 World Cup both on and off the field.
“We have to have a decent team playing in the World Cup. For that we will be having a dedicated team working with the boys. There will also be an infrastructural committee with a nominee from the government as well. Infrastructure is of paramount importance.”
“If we are able to host the Club World Cup along with hosting the U-17 World Cup, there will be a certain paradigm shift in the way the game is played and looked upon in the Country.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Nita Ambani has congratulated AIFF and Mr. Praful Patel for winning the bid for the 2017 U-17 World Cup. “Heartiest congratulations to Mr. Praful Patel, President, AIFF and other office-bearers of AIFF and all other stakeholders of football in India. Let us make a happy nation and a better world through this competition and let us all enjoy achieving this, together,” her statement read.
“IMG-Reliance is committed to development of football and hosting the FIFA 2017 U-17 World Cup will build a vibrant ecosystem that will provide the much needed impetus to the game of football in the country, and will set the stage for talents to blossom and football to flourish.”
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