Valcke stresses on positives of hosting U-17 WC to Maken

New Delhi: Keen to see India as host of the U-17 World Cup in 2017, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has reportedly told Sports Minister Ajay Maken that organising the event will bring about a "big change in Indian football."

"The sports minister was very positive and extended full support to FIFA and AIFF for hosting the U-17 WC, and Valcke has told him (Maken) that it will bring about a "big change" in a country of so many talented youths," a senior FIFA official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

During a meeting here yesterday, Maken had extended full support to Valcke and Thierry Regenass, director of member associations and development.

Inaugurating the FIFA Developmental Office here today, Valcke emphasised on India`s bid to host the U-17 World Cup as well as qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

"I sincerely hope that India qualify for the 2022 World Cup. The developmental office will have to play a big role in that.

"Their bid to host the U-17 World Cup is also being taken seriously and I hope they succeed there as well. We will help as much as possible," Valcke said.

Valcke is in the Capital on a four-day visit to review the progress of various development projects being undertaken by the world football`s governing body.

"It`s really pleasing to see our endeavour taking shape in India. The developmental office being located here reflects our intention to develop football from the grassroots in this country. Development offices are an integral part of FIFA as it builds the grassroots."

The other two FIFA development offices is Asia are situated in Kuala Lumpur and Amman.

Shaji Prabhakaran, the FIFA Regional Development Officer (RDO) for South and Central Asia, termed it a "big challenge".

"We need to do justice with our endeavour. We plan to move ahead with FIFA`s support and this day marks the beginning of a new chapter," Prabhakaran said.

AFC General Secretary Alex Soosay, who was also present, said: "We have the perfect atmosphere here -- that of football. It`s also very close to Football House, the All India Football Federation headquarters."

Thierry Regenass, Director Member Associations and Development Vision, FIFA reflected on how the plan for the office was laid.

"We have completed a circle. We started 15 months ago and now the results are in front of us. We had planned to open a developmental office in India and I am extremely happy with the steadfast progress it has made."