Mumbai: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa today inaugurated the refurbished Cooperage Stadium here and said hosting the U-17 World Cup in 2017 will boost the development of sport in the country.
The refurbishing of Cooperage was done under FIFA's 'Win in India, With India' project.
Shaikh Salman mentioned about the history of the Cooperage Stadium.
"It is a great honour for me to be here standing on this football ground. I know that India has a lot to contribute for the game and under the leadership of Mr. Praful Patel, AIFF has been targeting the right areas to promote the Sport in India and the Asian Football Confederation will be continuing to support them," he said.
"AFC and FIFA are confident that the successful hosting of 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be further boosting the development of football in the country," he added.
The occasion was graced by Nita Ambani, founder and chairperson, Indian Super League, and All India Football Federation president Praful Patel, Besides, a host of former internationals, present footballers, FIFA referees, coaches, and representatives from FIFA, AIFF, clubs were also present.
Nita Ambani spoke about her personal connect with the Cooperage.
"It was on this ground that Mukesh (Mr. Mukesh Ambani) and I got married. After that, we have come here many times to watch Mohun Bagan play East Bengal," she recollected.
"This is a wonderful Stadium. This stadium has been the ambassador for Mumbai football and has been synonymous with Mumbai's football. My heartiest congratulations to WIFA and Mr. Praful Patel," she stated.
The artificial turf being laid at the newly built stadium is a part of FIFA's Goal Project.
Patel thanked FIFA for its "special interest in developing Indian Football".
"FIFA and out AFC have contributed immensely to the rebirth of football in our country. India was always a great football playing nation. On the occasion of the recently held 60th Anniversary of AFC, Shaikh Salman honoured India as one of the 12 founding members of the AFC," Patel mentioned.
"Football in India is developing for sure. The inaugural edition of Indian Super League was already the highest watched league in Asia within the first six weeks itself. Our next commitment stays to improve the FIFA rankings of the national team. I can assure you that with the support of all stakeholders, many a talented footballer would like to make a career out of football.
"FIFA has spent over 2 million USD to get this stadium ready."