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India can’t afford to be left behind in football - Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju

India can’t afford to be left behind in football - Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 6 Jan 2021 7:54 AM GMT

Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijju has reiterated the government’s intentions of supporting the development of football in India. In an interactive session recently with players in the squad for the U-17 Women’s World Cup, Rijiju congratulated the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for being chosen as the hosts of the event in 2022. He also acknowledged the fact that football is the biggest sport in the world and that if India wants to be a sporting powerhouse in the future, it has to encourage, develop and promote the beautiful game.

The U-17 World Cup was initially supposed to take place in November 2020 in India. It was initially pushed back to February 2021 but after further deliberations, FIFA decided to cancel it and select India as the host nation for the 2022 edition. Rijiju touched on the same as he promised full support for the event next year.

“I assure you that there will be full support be it financially, manpower or anything that is required. The only thing I am sad about is that some of the girls from the current U17 squad will not be able to play in 2022 due to age bar. But I must say that the girls should not lose heart because after this there is the U20 level and then senior team. They are the future. I assure full support from the government,” he said.

Expressing hopes of a senior World Cup appearance for the country in the women’s game, the Sports Minister also said, “I know that the Indian women’s team is higher ranked than the men’s team and this proves that we can qualify for World Cup even if we are not the hosts and I believe that in near future we will make it to the Women’s World Cup”.

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