Football fans in Northeast India have a new reason to rejoice. Guwahati, the premier city of the region is all set to host the biggest football extravaganza in the world, the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Sports Hub of India
Guwahati becomes the fifth Indian city to be ratified as a venue for next year’s Under-17 football World Cup. The decision was taken after a FIFA inspection team gave its thumbs up to the venue’s preparedness and facilities. This move also augurs well with CM Sarbananda Sonowal’s vision of making Assam the sports hub of India.
Tournament Director of the Local Organising Commitee, Mr Javier Ceppi was clearly impressed with the work of the new elected State Government to bring the tournament to the city.
‘We have a very good understanding with the newly elected State Government and that has certainly helped to push matters forward in Guwahati.
They realise the importance of hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 and have given us their complete support, which has had an immediate impact on the pace of work in the last 45 days. We also believe, as the State Government does, that this event will be critical in the Chief Minister’s vision of making Assam the sports hub of India.’, he told the media.
Meanwhile, Assam Sports Secretary Ajay Tiwari is relishing the prospect of being one of the hosts for the big event. He lauded the Governments effort to upgrade the stadium and practice sites.
‘I am elated at the recognition being bestowed upon us by FIFA and at the prospect of the state hosting a football World Cup. The state government has been putting in a lot of efforts to upgrade the stadium as well as the practice sites.’, he said.
Delegates from the football’s governing body were satisfied with the conditions in Guwahati, both on the pitch as well as in the training facilities of IGAI training ground, Nehru Stadium, LNIPE Ground and SAI Regional Centre.
Mecca of Indian Football
The Northeastern part of the country is steadily becoming a mecca of Indian football, a term generally associated with Kolkata. With the presence of football clubs like Shillong Lajong FC, Aizawl FC, NorthEast United FC, Royal Wahingdoh FC and a host of local sides from the Shillong, Manipur or Mizoram football leagues, the following for the sport in the region has seen a steady growth over the last few decades.
Event manager for the U-17 World Cup, Ms Marion Mayer Vorfelder seems to be aware of the enthusiasm for the sport in this region. She believes it’s a win-win situation not only for Assam, but for the entire region
‘From what I am being told, the enthusiasm for the sport here in this part of the country is unmatched.
Football is like a religion here and considering how passionate people are about the sport here, this ratification denotes a win not just for the state of the Assam but the entire North East.’, she said
This confirms the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, home of Indian Super League side NorthEast United FC, as one of the five venues for the U17 World Cup to be held next year. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadiums in Delhi, Kochi, Goa as well as the DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai have already been confirmed as the venues by the international football governing body.
The 23-member strong delegation will travel to Kolkata tomorrow to visit the last venue of its inspection trip and assess the situation in the capital of Bengal.