It is an exciting time for football fans in India with the FIFA U-17 World Cup set to be held in the country next year. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be quite excited about the prospects of the sport in the country as well.
Addressing the nation on his radio programme Mann Ki Baat, Modi highlighted the importance of the sport in the country.
“India had a good run in football earlier but that is not the case now. Our rankings are also very low,” said Modi in his address to the nation. The PM also went on to state that the sport must be taken to every village in the country, and the upcoming U-17 World Cup is a great opportunity to do that.
I see that our youth is enjoying football like EPL. Its important to take football to every village & FIFA U-17 is a great opportunity: PM
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 27, 2016
“Due to the tournament that we are hosting, we will get an opportunity to create good sporting infrastructure also,” he continued.
Growing attendance a good sign ahead of 2017 U17 WC
While the Indian Super League (ISL) has attracted large amounts of crowd to the stadiums, the I-League has not been able to generate such interest over the years. This year however, the I-League has recorded a considerable increase the average attendance in the stadiums, which have gone up from 5,909 to 8,296. In fact, defending champions Mohun Bagan have recorded an average attendance of 22,370.
This is indeed a good sign for football in India, as the I-League teams features more Indian players due to the AFC rule that allows teams to have a maximum number of four foreigners. This means that the average Indian football fan is taking interest in the local players and the clubs. With more players expected to emerge out of the U-17 World Cup next year, this can only help Indian football spread far and wide.
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