U-17 Women’s World Cup will inspire young girls in India to take football, says AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey

All-India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey on Saturday said that the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 in India will be a big milestone and will inspire young girls in the country to take up football, leading further to women empowerment.

The U-17 Women’s World Cup is scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar, Margao (Goa) and Navi Mumbai from October 11-30. Hosts India have been drawn in Group A alongside USA, Morocco and Brazil. They will face the USA on October 11, followed by Morocco and Brazil on October 14 and October 17, respectively, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

“I think this is going to be a milestone for Indian women footballers. When a young girl sees an international women’s team playing on the ground in international matches with so much support from across all quarters of India and internationally, it inspires her to become like that or be a part of that. Therefore, the many young girls will be inspired, motivated, encouraged to play football after this FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup,” Chaubey told IANS in an interview at the sidelines of an event, where the National Supporters Group for the Women’s World Cup was announced.

“It’s a very big event for India, in particular for Indian women, Indian girl children. As you know that Prime Minister Narendra Modi says ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, so in this case when they play football, they earn their living and bring laurels for the nation. I think the tournament is going to be a big boost for Indian football and women empowerment in the country.”

During the event, Odisha Tourism, Hero MotoCorp, NTPC Limited, Power Grid Corporation of India and United Phosphorus Limited (UPL) were announced as the National Supporters of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in the presence of AIFF President, FIFA Director of Youth Tournaments Jaime Yarza and AIFF Secretary General, Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran.

The AIFF also spoke about the scale of broadcasted and infrastructure put in place for the FIFA event.

“This tournament will be broadcasted in 140 countries across the world. India is hosting this, which shows that we are ready in terms of international infrastructure. The government of India, Ministry of Sports has put in the effort, so that infrastructure wise India should not be left behind,” he said.

“So, we can say that the All India Football Federation under the guidelines of FIFA are prepared to maintain all the discipline and organise the tournament,” he added.

Asked whether the Indian women’s team is ready to take up the challenges, the BJP leader said, “I would say yes, the Indian girls they are doing well preparation and I am confident that when they meet USA, Monaco, Brazil, they will do their best.”

The current administrators haven’t spent much time in the office after being elected to their respective posts. However, the 45-year-old is not worried about the short duration of preparation and the challengings in organising the mega event.

“I think the challenge comes in your life, it’s a regular practice. Without challenge there is no satisfaction in life, so my management is ready, all AIFF members and office-bearers are ready to leave no stone unturned to put our best foot forward and we see that this tournament must go well and also ends well. We are equipped, experienced and confident enough to host any international tournament in India,” he said.

As a country, India is far away from becoming a football superpower in the world and Chaubey feels it’s a continuous process and no specific time frame can be given to reach that stage of success.

“For success, there is no specific timeframe. It is a continuous preparation, continuous hardware and I will ensure that Indian football will continue to do their hard work. We will ensure that we go level by level high with the passage of time,” he said.

The footballer-turned-politician also wants “equal pay” for men and women players and said AIFF is planning to implement equal pay for men’s and women’s footballers in the country.

“I have realized as a former player that unless you are paid ‘ decent remuneration, you can’t feel motivated so I feel it is important to honour the women footballers,” Chaubey said.

“We will speak to various stakeholders and like-minded people here (corporates) and will try to find a way to remove the disparity in match fees of Indian men’s and women’s national football teams,” he concluded.

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