New Delhi, Oct 3: Former India Men's Football Team Captain Bhaichung Bhutia sees the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022 as a starting point for support needed to help the women's game grow in the country.
In the build-up to the much-awaited tournament, Bhutia said, "The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022 is happening in India and I hope all the fans come to the stadium, and if they can't then they watch on TV. I think it's important that you start watching and supporting your local teams. For women's football, this is the start. With more support and presence of fans in the stadiums, it will help motivate a lot of young girls to play football and in turn, grow the sport."
Well known for his ability to score spectacular goals during his playing days, the former India ace urged parents to back the youngsters.
"As a father to two daughters, I feel it is essential for us parents to push the children to play sports, especially football because as a team sport, it teaches you a way of life. It's very important that girls get the opportunity as well and there is an environment conducive for them. In fact, when we talk about football and the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022, my two daughters are fans and they want to play. However, they don't get to see that much of women's football and I think they need some icons who can inspire them."
Bhutia, who is considered to be one of India's best footballers in the modern era, also batted for more women to be part of the coaching system in the country.
"In India, we need to train our coaches so that they can pass on the knowledge to the girls and boys, but especially having women coaches is likely to help women's football in the country. And I think they can understand the mental make-up, the challenges a woman footballer will face. So, I think it will be easier for young girls to connect with women coaches," he said in praise of the legacy programme of FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022, the Coach Education Scholarship Programme.
The Indian team is slated to play all their group matches at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. The host nation has been drawn in Group A, Brazil, Morocco and USA. The other two venues for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022TM are Goa and Navi Mumbai.