The football stadiums across six venues are ready. The FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy experience is currently creating buzz and excitement among the football fans across the nation. Fans are now waiting for the action as the final preparations for the FIFA U-17 World Cup are on. Javier Ceppi, Tournament Director for FIFA U-17 World Cup is overseeing every small detail to be ready for the kick-off in less than 30 days. Javier found the time to answer a few questions.
Everyone right from the government to players, have been talking about FIFA U-17. What can we expect from FIFA U-17? How has been the response?
It feels like a senior FIFA World Cup. The amount of interest it has generated in India is unprecedented. We have thousands of media articles per month talking about the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Honorable Prime Minister, all Chief Ministers, senior politicians, Bollywood actors, footballers, athletes, etc. This has been reflected by the success that ticket sales were higher than any other sporting event in India even two months before the tournament. The fans are excited, our partners are excited, all other stakeholders are excited, and there has been a large amount of goodwill towards the tournament, so we feel that it can become a memorable event for everyone in India.
When a brand ties up with an event as the FIFA U-17 World Cup it means that they are fully involved with the sport and with the development of the game at any level. It is a huge statement made by corporates, that they are in it for the long run and that they will use all of their resources into popularising the game and into reaching to kids, so that more boys and girls can take up an active lifestyle through football. On this aspect, brands are the best placed to do it, they have daily relationship with all sections of society and the event being endorsed by a brand such as
What is Mission XI Million? What have been the on-ground activation for that?
Mission XI Million (MXIM) is the reason why everyone on the LOC (Local Organising Committee) wakes up every day with a smile on their faces. It is the single largest school contact programme that has conducted in India and it was designed specifically for the country and act as a legacy of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. It´s basic premise is that you can play football anywhere and with anyone, that you don´t need a lush football pitch and 11 a side teams to play and that football and sports is an integral part of the development of the kids, just as important as academics. The response has been fantastic, it has been an eye opener for school administrators, for parents and even for kids. They all realise now that they can reclaim open spaces, any open space, and play a small sided game of football. Right now, we have reached almost 13,000 schools and we have almost 8 million kids playing football because of that, which is already a huge thing. MXIM will be the real game changer for football in India.
How has your association been with
Coca-Cola has been very active in the promotion of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. They were the first FIFA Commercial Affiliate we met and they have been fully involved in the promotion of football in India, which can be extended through this event.
Coca-Cola has been a long-standing FIFA partner, with a formal association since 1974. Where do you see this relationship heading in the next few years?
The position of
What can be done to facilitate football at the school level? What can be done to improve the state of football in the country?
The main thing is to do what we are doing with MXIM: convince school administrators, teachers and parents that physical activity is also part of a child´s development and is as important as academics. They are the gatekeepers in their schools and once the gates are opened for the game to come into their schools, then nothing will stop India to become a global football power. The process has started very successfully with MXIM and if it is continued, then the path for development for football in India looks very bright.
When will FIFA return to India after 2017?
First and foremost, let´s focus on 2017. This is the first time India will host a FIFA World Cup and it is also the first time an Indian National Team will take part of a FIFA World Cup. Only if the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 is successful, has full stadiums and is run smoothly, we can think of what will happen in the future. But, in the meantime, all the focus of the nation should be from 6th to 28th October, 2017.