India are all set to host the Federation Internationale de Football (FIFA) U-17 World Cup 2017, undoubtedly the biggest competition to be hosted by the country yet.
Speaking on the importance of staging the same, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi stated that the FIFA U-17 World Cup should not remain the final objective as far as the sport is concerned.
“India is going to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, but successful hosting of the event alone cannot be our final objective. FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 must be a catalyst for change, the tipping point for football in the country, which can only be done by creating a mass movement around it. The objective is to give an opportunity to every child in the country to play football,” he said in an official statement.
With the World Cup scheduled in October this year, Modi also highlighted a special outreach programme, named "Mission XI Million", that is set to target students from more than 15000 schools across the nation.
“Mission XI Million will take the beautiful game of football to at least 11 million boys and girls around the country. Children in every state, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kutch to Arunachal Pradesh will get a chance to learn, play and enjoy football. More than 15000 schools around the country will be partners in this,” the 66-year-old expressed.
“We need the support not just of children but also of every parent and every teacher to encourage boys and girls to play football and develop both skill and fitness. I am confident that these children will be able to take Indian football to its rightful place in the world,” he added.
The tournament director for FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, Mr Javier Ceppi, commented: “We have been working very hard on making this a success. This backing from Prime Minster Modi will only strengthen our resolve to make this the most popular and watched World Cup in India and help change Indian football".