The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently used his medium to reach out to the masses, the radio feature “Mann ki Baat” where he spoke at length about the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will be help in India in 2017.

The FIFA U17 World Cup is a shining star on the FIFA calendar, and one of the most important global tournaments at the youth level. Many of the current footballing stars such as the likes of Toni Kroos(Germany), Neymar(Brazil) and Cesc Fabregas (Spain) represented their U17 national side and shone at this stage. It is this tournament where the footballing youth is put to test on the world stage and the new generation gets prepared to become the face of the nation.

The FIFA U17 World Cup was founded as the FIFA U16 World Cup and later changed to the FIFA U17 World Cup and was known by its current name since 2007. The first edition was staged in 1985 in China.

Nigeria is the most successful nation in the tournament’s history with five titles and three runners up with Brazil being the second most successful nation with three titles and two runners up.


 A reluctance to wear football boots at the 1950 World Cup is blamed for casting India into the soccer wilderness (some say due to lack of funds and priority given to the  Olympics over the World Cup) but decades later the giant country is making real efforts to get back in the game. Buoyed by a rising economic tide, football will return to India in a big way with the FIFA Under 17 world cup next year, an event which officials hope is just the start.

“This is historic. Hosting a tournament of such stature will help galvanise the face of Indian football among the masses and youth of the country” – Praful Patel ( AIFF President )

India will soon become the fourth Asian nation to host the U 17 FIFA World Cup,. It came close to being part of the event back in 1950 but now India have a real opportunity to showcase their talent in terms of management and the sport itself. This tournament will be for the youth, an engaging event that will drive more youngsters to join the game and as well form a culture for football in the country. There is immense potential here of connecting India’s massive youth population with football through this World Cup. The government will be doing its bit to pro-actively involve all the schools, colleges and universities through various promotional events and activations.

Speaking on the achievement of the country hosting this massive tournament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was delighted and said,

It presents a chance for the country to brand itself at the world stage and to instill the passion of football across the corners of the country. 

 The head of the country being involved with the event then the competition and associated event with the competition will have a high probability of attracting big brands and personalities. Also all the government departments will proactively engage with the World Cup, and with the Prime Minister understanding the potential of football in India, the sport should get a massive boost. The government can take this opportunity and run various campaigns to educate the masses and the youth during the world cup.

The FIFA U-17 World Cup in India will be telecasted live to more than 195 countries which gives India a massive opportunity to brand its image to the world. This in turn would create good economic opportunities for India by attracting more tourists during the post the event and also might attract increased sports investment locally.


 The Indian team has never qualified for any FIFA U-17 World Cup to date, but will host the event in 2017 and by virtue of being the host, they qualify automatically to play in the tournament.

India might make history by qualifying on merit as India is qualified for the AFC U16 Championship final (scheduled for September 2016 in Goa, top four from Asia will qualify for U17 WC) round with an impressive qualifying round performance last year.

I think it’s great to start with hosting U-17 World Cup in India. I think (if you are) to host any FIFA tournament, the U-17 World Cup is the best one. The boys who will represent India in that tournament are the ones who will be taking Indian football forward- Baichung Bhutia

The Indian national youth side also known as the Blue Cubs have been tireless in their preparations for the World Cup. The team have been travelling all across Europe and other Asian countries playing against the best of footballing academies and clubs and also training with them.

The India U-17 coach Nicolai Adam has warned India that they would find it very hard on the pitch as their rival teams will be featuring players honed by the world’s finest football academies. But he said there would be no disgrace for India, even if they are on the wrong end of some big score lines.

For me, an embarrassment is if you run away from big challenges, maybe we will get smashed 6-0, but it will not be an embarrassment for this country, embarrassment or not, one thing is for sure- at this World cup they will be wearing boots

There is a buzz around the country as we prepare the stadiums, the team and the watching public, for what should be a fantastic event.

By Shaji Prabhakaran

Football Consultant| Sports Expert| President Football Delhi (FA)| Author| Ex-FIFA/AIFF| Consultant AFC, FIFA, ICC| CIES| Development| Management|

3 thoughts on ““MANN KI BAAT” & THE FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP INDIA”
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