As the FIFA U-17 World Cup is set to begin, former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly is hoping that there will be a big positive spin-off for the Indian youth stars. Ganguly owns Athletico de Kolkata team in the Indian Super League and believes that getting any FIFA tournament helps India get on to the international football map.
(I think it is a big thing for Indian football to get the World Cup, whatever level it may be, Under-17 to be played in India. And I come from Calcutta, which is a football crazy city. I saw the new stadium being refurbished into a top class facility for the finals at the Salt Lake Stadium on the 26th of October. And obviously Coca-Cola is a part of the entire process, they are one of the sponsors and the supporters of football. This country, other than cricket, needs other sports as well. We saw badminton and how it has progressed over the last few years. The ISL has made an entry into the sporting arena but it is still far away from being very professional and very competitive brand of football compared to other parts of the world. Tournaments like these, when they actually bring in international players – you can actually sit there and see the difference between my boys and their boys. There’s Brazil, there’s Argentina, there’s England who are actually world class football teams. And their youth culture and their youth training process is the reason why they become so good when they grow up. So, I think it is going to be an eye-opener for Indian football and hopefully we move forward from here.)