New Delhi, India (VIAnews) – The official slogan for the first-ever FIFA event to be held in India is ‘Football Takes Over’. Set to take place from October 6th-28th, the Under-17 World Cup will occur in six cities throughout the country. With 24 teams fighting for the trophy, what is about to unfold will certainly be one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year. Football is about to take over India.
After an exhausting search, FIFA and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) announced earlier this year that the cities hosting the matches would be New Delhi, Goa, Kochi, Guwahati, Kolkata, and Navi Mumbai. The tournament will kick off in New Delhi and Navi Mumbai, with host India taking on the USA in the capital city on opening day. The quarter-finals will be held in Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, and Kolkata, while Navi Mumbai and Guwahati will host the semi-finals. The final match will be held in Kolkata on the 28th.
Speaking at the announcement of the match schedule, head of FIFA tournaments, Jaime Yarza said, “The FIFA U-17 World Cup is an exciting milestone for the growth of football in India and it has now reached a very important stage. The match schedule was created following a thorough analysis of players’ health, competition format, team movements, weather, local festivities, geography and other factors. Each venue will host at least eight matches, and we took existing infrastructure into account, as well as local enthusiasm when allotting the matches.”
The largest venue in the tournament will be Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, which has a capacity of about 85,000. The smallest will be Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa, with a capacity above 16,000.
Indian Prime Minister Modi has commented on the upcoming tournament, noting the importance of capitalizing on the event to revitalize youth spirit in football.
“My dear countrymen, there is a big opportunity for our younger generation between Navratra festivities and Diwali. FIFA Under-17 World Cup is being organized in our country. I am sure reverberations of the spirit of football will be heard all around,” said Modi. “It will evince more interest in football in every generation. There should not be a single school-college ground in India where we will not see our youngsters at play. Come on, the whole world is coming to play on Indian soil, let us make sports a part of our lives,” he added.
The FIFA Under-17 World Cup has been a catalyst in the careers of many of the world’s best footballers. Before they mesmerized millions, it took serious amounts of hard work to make it to the top.
Brazilian football icon Ronaldinho, who won the FIFA U-17 world title in 1997, said that the tournament serves as a “springboard” for future stars, and provides a concrete form of inspiration for young players.
“Young players dream of making it big,” he said, “and this competition gives them a fantastic opportunity to make that dream come true.”
Even for the majority of Indian youth who do not have the opportunity of making it to this high of a level, hosting the FIFA tournament in their home country will serve as a major morale booster. An event of this magnitude, with footballers of such high skill, can motivate and inspire millions of children to work hard and achieve their grandest dreams. This is the true power of sport.
As teams trickle in and settle into their respective host cities for round one, India is ready for the tournament to start. The event will bring worldwide attention to the country, and will most certainly be an economic boost for the host cities. Perhaps most importantly, though, the U-17 World Cup has the opportunity to inspire millions of youth across India. From the north to the south, east to the west, from the mountains to the seas, deserts to the cities, football is about to unite this country and give inspiration to the next generation.