The Maharashtra Govt is finally doing something to promote a sport other than cricket – football. Well, the reason is not because of the overshadowing of cricket over all other sports but because the FIFA World Cup for Under-17 is going to be held in India between 6th and 28th of October 2017. The various tournaments will be hosted all across the country. Six of the world cup matches are to be held in Maharashtra’s Navi Mumbai stadium too.
The state govt’s school education and sports department has launched a special drive to encourage students to take up football and the aim is to to try and get upper primary and secondary schools and college students interested in the game.
In the first phase, to be completed by July 15, school and colleges with football teams and grounds will be identified and their students trained professional football. Players must be older than nine. Selfie points will be created at public places, malls and railway stations to fuel the football frenzy.
Teams will be created and players will receive special coaching. Schools will be classified on the basis of facilities available for the players. Two to three day workshops will be held to train teachers and coaches from these schools. A list of football experts and coaches in the district will be drawn up. More than 1 lakh footballs will be distributed — three in each school. A district-level football tournament will be organised on August 29.
The fear is probably that stadiums will turn empty simply because it is not cricket but football. But thankfully, the youth of today is seen taking big time to football too and that’s a big relief. But we hope that this frenzy or even half of it continues after the FIFA U-17 matches are over. Now that seems highly unlikely!