New Delhi: Elated after FIFA awarded the 2017 Under-17 World Cup hosting rights to India, the country`s football fraternity described the world body`s decision as a historic development which may change the face of the game here.
In a landmark development, India was chosen as the host country for the mega event by the FIFA executive committee in its meeting at Salvador de Bahia in Brazil yesterday.
Describing the development as historic, All India Football Federation President Praful Patel said hosting the mega event would have a huge impact in raising the profile of the game.
"This is historic. This is what we have been waiting for. FIFA has been extremely supportive of our ambitions and taking Indian football to world level. Hosting a tournament of such a stature will help galvanise the face of Indian football among the masses and youth of the country," he said.
Legendary Indian footballer Chuni Goswami said hosting the mega event would be a boon for infrastructure development and will also give a chance for youngsters to showcase their talent at the world level.
"It`s certainly a great step for development of Indian football. All the stakeholders will have to work in tandem to make the tournament a success. It will be a lesson for our youngsters to play alongside the best in the world. We have talented young kids on the block. Lack of exposure has kept them behind. Things will change with the World Cup. It will give us a huge boost," the former Indian captain stated.
Former captain I M Vijayan felt hosting the mega event may change the face of Indian football. "This tournament may change the face of football in India. We have the capacity to hold the tournament successfully. I feel at the youth and junior level we can compete at the world level. So, this may bring a beginning of the change in Indian football we are looking for," he said.
Current India goalkepeer Subrata Paul Subrata Pal felt getting the right to host the tournament was the biggest thing to have happen in the country`s football.
"In my point of view, this is the biggest thing to happen to Indian football. We never ever thought that India would host a World Cup. It`s like a dream come true for us. We`re getting it all started with U-17 World Cup, hopefully we would one day get to host the World Cup. After all, this is the beginning."
Shaji Prabhakaran, FIFA Development Officer for South and Central Asia, said the Under-17 World Cup could be a game-changer for the country`s football.
"This tournament may be a game-changer, it will give a great push towards India`s ambitions to become a footballing nation. It will put India in the limelight of world football. The hard work will start now, but I feel the AIFF and all the stakeholders together can make the tournament a success," he said.
Current India midfielder Mehtab Hossain said the Under-17 World Cup would lead to a big improvement in football infrastructure in the country.
"I`m over the moon to hear the news. It`s a great feeling. Indian football will reach new heights. The real standard of football will develop through this. I`m sure many more world class venues would come up," he said.
Former India defender Subrata Bhattacharya felt with the hosting of the mega event, corporate sector would also start taking interest in the game.
"Besides developing Indian football, I`m pretty sure that the business barons, corporates too slowly will be interested in taking up the sport. When there`s money there`s development. Indian football will only benefit from an event of this stature," he said.
"There are many India cities where football is hugely popular and followed. This will further popularise the sport. It`s the step in the right direction. I`m really delighted. It`s a great moment."