U-17 WC as initiative of new era in Indian football: Chhetri
New Delhi: National captain Sunil Chhetri says winning the bid to host the 2017 Under-17 World Cup has heralded a "new era" in Indian football and the onus will now be on all stakeholders to ensure a successful tournament.
"It is definitely the start of a new era in Indian football," Chhetri, who recently became the country`s highest scorer with 43 goals, said on saturday.
"I think they (sponsors) will come in. I think it`s massive. It`s not a small thing, it`s a big thing. From the government to the corporate house to the clubs to federation to the officials, it`s all combined. For the money to come and the interest to grow, everybody has to work together. With the government coming in the money will automatically come in," he added.
On a landmark day for country`s football, India beat South Africa, Ireland and Uzbekistan in the fight to host the 24-nation biennial event.
The decision to award the prestigious tournament to India was taken in FIFA`s executive committee meeting in Salvador da Bahia in Brazil, friday.
"I don`t think about the reason (why FIFA has awarded the tournament to India). It`s a huge thing. I am not focussing how much they (U-17 team) are going to achieve. I am happy that we got it. I just want the best kids of the country to be chosen. It`s the first tournament of this scale to happen in the country.
Chhetri stressed on the need to have as many football academies as possible in the run-up to the mega event.
"We need loads (academies) of them. Not only from the federation but the clubs have to be more focussed. All the kids in the country should get a chance," Chhetri said after inaugurating the Letzplay School that aims to offer coaching to kids interested in football.
Asked how if feels after having overtaken former captain and teammate Bhaichung Bhutia`s tally of 42 goals, Chhetri was modest about the achievement.
"I don`t want to use the word surpass. I am a huge fan of Bhaichung. I just want to concentrate on getting goals for the team. I never ever thought about setting records for my club and the country."
India has hosted the Asian Football Confederation`s Youth Championships (Under-20) in 2006 and then the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 but never any FIFA tournament.
The dates of the tournament will be decided later. United Arab Emirates hosted the tournament this year while Chile will be the host country for the 2015 edition.
Asked about nest year`s FIFA World Cup, Chhetri rated defending champions Spain, hosts Brazil, Argentina as the teams to watch out for.
"And you can never ignore Germany. They are having a very strong team too."