New Delhi: The countdown to FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2020 has begun with the tournament kicking off in Guwahati and Bhubaneswar on November 2, Monday. This is the first time India is hosting any FIFA women's event and the Indian team participating will be the first women's team from the country to play in a FIFA tournament and only the second overall.
In 2017, India hosted FIFA U-17 Men's World Cup, the success of which was a major factor in India getting the U-17 Women's World Cup, as informed by FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman.
With every FIFA World Cup comes legacy projects that the federation starts so that the tournament and overall the game of football has a lasting impact on the country. For the U-17 Men's World Cup, FIFA had launched Mission XI Million, according to which the game was meant to be taken to at least 11 million kids in India. The aim of the project was to improve the football culture of India, build the football ecosystem, and ultimately widen the talent pool for their various national teams.
The U-17 Women's World Cup in India will also have legacy projects kicked off in the build-up to the tournament to generate a buzz for it and to help facilitate the growth of women's football in the country.
While FIFA is set to have a high-profile meeting with AIFF and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) to discuss in detail the various projects on Wednesday, here is a sneak peek into three projects that FIFA has in the pipeline.
1. Infrastructural development: Bareman said that the one project that excites her a lot is related to developing the infrastructure in the host cities. With this project, FIFA wants to create safe places for girls to participate and play football.
2. Football for All: With this project, FIFA aims to increase participation of girls in the sport, especially at the grassroot levels by the means of information dissipation and increased activities.
3. Small-sided football: FIFA is set to launch a pilot programme for women's football campaign in India, which is a global programme. It is based around 3-v-3 and 5-v-5 games in order to induce fun into the game and help anyone and everyone enter the sport. About the project, Bareman said, "It's important that the girls' first interaction with the sport is fun. They need to get as many touches on the ball as possible and there needs to be an atmosphere that's exciting to them. We hope to launch it in all the host cities and if it is successful, it will become a global programme."
Mission XI Million, the legacy project of FIFA U-17 Men's World Cup India 2017, was not carried forward well after the completion of the tournament and had very limited impact on grassroots development. While the equipments reached the school, there was no recorded data on how many kids actually benefitted from the project and how that increased the participation in the game.
Bareman insisted that the same won't happen with the legacy programmes of the U-17 Women's World Cup and that there will be deep monitoring of the sustainability of the projects in the long run.
"It's (legacy projects) something that I am personally very passionate about and involved in it very intimately. The fact that there are five host cities and they have heavy involvement from the municipalities, associations and the top down support from the Sports Minister, I am really convinced that we will have a sustainable impact.
"This tournament will shine a spotlight on women's football and it means that people like the Sports Minister, the AIFF, the LOC, they have to commit because everybody is going to be watching. FIFA will be here, we are investing and we want to see a return on our investments. So, there will be a high level of monitoring on how the impact will come out," Bareman said.