The All India Football Federation believes that the FIFA U-17 World Cup, beginning October 6, can be a catalyst for the sport. At the Grassroots Development Summit 2017, organised by the Mumbai City Football Club, the senior AIFF officials exuded confidence about the future of the sport in the country. "Over the last three years, we have worked very hard with this U-17 World Cup team and Indian football is on the threshold of some very good things to come," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said in a media release. "Hopefully, it (the World Cup) will also be the beginning of a new era for Indian football," he said.
"We may lack behind on technique and technical aspects, but these boys are equal in terms of physicality, fitness and endurance, with the rest of the world. They will run their socks off on the field and will make us all proud," said AIFF Technical Director Savio Media. Deputy Chairman of AIFF's Technical Committee Henry Menezes was equally positive that the boys can pull off a surprise.
"The U-17 team has been given more world-wide exposure than any other Indian team. This lot is the best of our next generation of players. With a little bit of host luck, and the entire country's support, I think they are very close to pulling off a surprise in the tournament," Menezes said. "If that happens, it will change the entire football scenario in the country," he added.
Brazil U-17 team chief coach Carlos Amadeu and manager Raul Fachini, England's U-17 World Cup manager Neil Dewsnip and New Zealand's U-17 manager Simon Hilton spoke about their respective country's grassroots development programmes.