As the Under 17 World Cup comes near, enthusiasm around it grows. We discuss in this piece, what legacy are we looking at with the Under-17 World Cup.
By Sachim Karekar
The Under-17 World Cup is poised to become India’s First FIFA Event as hosts and preparations have been strong. But, there are strong reason to worry. FIFA Under-17 World Cup’s Legacy should not just end up as an event we hosted, but as a revolution that got Indian Football into Limelight and a revolution that creates the stepping stone for India, for future success in International Football.
Hosting the World Cup doesn’t mean, we would immediately be one of the better nations at football, but means that it is a pathway to create and set benchmarks for ourselves on the pathway to Success in International Football. One of the case studies, where FIFA Under-17 World Cup hasn’t brought about a change in the National Teams Performances is Nigeria. Nigeria is the most successful nation at theUnder-17 World Cup, but yet hasn’t been able to replicate its Youth Success at Senior Levels. Although they stay one of the strongest sides in Africa, they failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 CAF African Cup of Nations, although after winning the 2013 edition. Nigeria has always been a prominent example of the fact that Youth success doesn’t always replicate in terms to Senior Team Success.
A place where a legacy would have been created, would have been SCOUTING. Although, there were a lot of trials were held to find hidden talents of Indian Football, including scouting of PIO and NRI talents, but this type of scouting exercise could have been turned into a permanent affair, rather than a temporary one only preceding the Under-17 World Cup. This could have been made into a permanent exercise by creating a single academy with zonal facilities as well as a part of AIFF Academy and having an annual scouting program as a part of the Current AIFF Academy Set Up. This scouting program could also be ran for scouting talents at other age groups as well. Accompanied by this program, could have been the Under 15 I-League, which should have been started earlier, and the onus being on the State Associations to start their own Under-15/Under-14 Championships, with the local clubs and districts as well. The state associations could run their own age group programs as well, alongside professional clubs of India, including the ISL Franchisees. Scouting is a place, where I believe India has lost an opportunity to create a legacy.
Another place, where a great legacy would have been created, would have been the STADIUMS. The case with the Under-17 World Cup has been that of hosting the event at smaller venues with only one or two venues being the high capacity venues. These smaller venues are developed as Football Only Facilities in the host nation as a part of Goal Project or any other project with regards to the Local Association. Although, hosting the event at Multiple High Capacity Venues is a fresh breathe of air, it’s my personal opinion, that rather than creating or refurbishing high capacity venues, creating more smaller venues add to the development of the game in a country and creates a better outreach program in smaller cities as well as smaller communities. Also hosting academies and local matches, these smaller venues would matter more for football, than the larger venues, which could be used for Cricket again. Creating Football only facilities has been the key to development of the game in places like the US, Japan and Australia.
These are the two places where I believe the opportunity to create legacies has been lost, and there could be places where we might created irreplaceable legacies. Whatever the legacy, it is sure, the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup is all set to impact Indian Football’s direction path to development. And as a close colleague once told me, “After all, it’s the People’s World Cup.”
Opinions and views expressed in the article are purely that of the editor. You can get in touch with the editor by mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can follow him on Twitter @sachim93.