After hosting the Commonwealth games in 2010, India earned the opportunity to host a mega sporting event, the FIFA under 17 World Cup. Hosting the U-17 World Cup meant the young Indian Lions get a chance to compete for the ultimate title, the 2017 World Cup. The U-17 World Cup, although meant for teenage boys, doesn’t shy in shelling out the world-class competition, with teams like Spain, England, Iran, some of whose players are involved in club level football in different countries at the developing age of 16-17 years.
There was a huge buzz and a sense of euphoria among fans as to how India would perform in its maiden campaign at a FIFA competition. The stakes were high as footballing giants Colombia, Ghana, and the USA stood in India’s way to the knockout stages.
The Indian team under the command of Amarjit Kiyam put in a wholehearted effort in all the three matches but weren’t able to withstand the might of the opposition, losing all the matches they played. The Indian team managed to score only one goal against Colombia and was kept away from the goal by USA and Ghana.
India v/s USA
India v/s Colombia
India v/s Ghana
Although the Indian campaign could only last three matches, they garnered respect from football pundits and fans worldwide. The Indian U-17 coach Luis Norton de Matos praised the team’s performance and rooted for football in India to be nurtured at the grass root level in various schools across the nation. The Indian team was not short of support as there was a sea of Indian fans, coming from different parts of India to witness the blue lions at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
Playing and hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup may be seen as a baby step forward in creating an atmosphere for the development of football in India. The U-17 World Cup saw globally recognized stars like Carles Puyol come to India and promote the game. All in all, the competition proved was successful in generating love towards football among Indian masses.