Kolkata: Sachin Tendulkar was one of the dignitaries at the 2014 World Cup Trophy Tour as it made its pit-stop in Kolkata and he took the stage to welcome the trophy to the City of Joy, alongside Sourav Ganguly and 1970 World Cup winning captain, Carlos Alberto Torres who is one of the ambassadors for the tournament to be held in Brazil.
When asked about his experience of being a world champion, Sachin responded, "First of all I am really honoured to be here. It’s a special moment. I hope that all the people of Kolkata enjoy the beautiful trophy for the next [three] days. 1983 was an important year of my life. That was the year I saw the [cricket] World Cup in Kapil Dev’s hands in Lords. When I saw that I told myself I wanted to be in the same position. It was a big moment. That’s where the dream started. I had to chase it for 22 years. I was prepared for all the hard work, sacrifice as long as the dream was accomplished."
He also spoke about the euphoria surrounding India`s win in the Cricket World Cup and how India has to translate the very same to football too.
"I cannot forget when we landed in Mumbai when we had to play the World Cup finals. I drove with my wife behind the team bus and the discussion was in two days time we would play the final. The atmosphere was unreal. To win the World Cup in my home town and home country was the biggest thing that could have happened. The victory lap was special and finally the moment when I held the trophy was unforgettable. This was the icing on the cake."
He expressed that the feeling of holding the world cup, cricket or football was something unparalleled.
"I don’t think in cricket or any other sport, it doesn’t get any better than lifting the World Cup."
Sachin shared his experience of being present at the Under-15 grassroots football tournament organized by Coca-Cola and he was visibly impressed by the participants present.
"I was so impressed by the energy. It was so vibrant. They were competitive. But they were playing in the right spirit. They respected the opposition and did not take anything for granted. It was only possible because of Coca-Cola who provided them a platform to express their talent."
The Bharat Ratna awardee also said that it was very important to go out and support another sport.
"I had the privilege of sitting next to Sunil Chhetri. It was a memorable morning for me. To go out and support another sport is really important. To show my support for the young footballers is great."
Sachin stressed on the importance of starting from the ground level if India is to achieve the target of participating in the World Cup and the Under-17 tournament will be a great impetus in this regard.
"Yes I would like to believe that India can participate in the World Cup. To participate in a big tournament it does not happen overnight. It’s a journey. There is a process. The platform has to be provided to the young talent. It`s about preparation. It`s just not turning up on the soccer field and scoring goals. It needs proper guidance," the record-breaking batsman said.
"When all those things come on a professional level, we need to attain that champion level. The support system has to be put in place and that’s when we can expect them to go out and compete. We need to take gradual steps. As long as the gradual steps are in process, the results will take care of themselves. We cannot straight away go to the hundredth floor but we need to start from the bottom," he added.
Sachin concluded by saying that India can aim for participation in the World Cup to be held in Qatar in 2022.
"I think we can target the 2022 World Cup in all probability."