Friday 28 October 2022, 06:45

Football spreads joy among young Indian female football fans

  • 200 young girls from NGOs watched the matches in Navi Mumbai

  • Tournament expected to inspire young girls in India to take up the game

  • Final to be held in Navi Mumbai on 30 October

The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022™ is moving close to a finish with only two fixtures including the final left to be played. Apart from proving to be an excellent platform for hundreds of young female footballers, the tournament also managed to spread smiles on the faces of young female fans of the sport. In Navi Mumbai, one of the three venues, FIFA joined hands with several Non-Governmental Organisations to give hundreds of young girls their first taste of a FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.

Five years ago, India got the chance to host its first FIFA tournament when the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017™ was held in the country. Five years and a pandemic later, it was a chance for young women to showcase their skills to the world in India. While the tournament is about finding out which of the 16 participating teams can eventually lift the trophy on 30 of October, in many ways, it’s also about hope and inspiration.

A girl gets her face painted during the event with an Indian NGO during the FIFA U17WWC

The 200 young girls from three NGOs – Vision Rescue, Enabling Leadership and Slum Soccer – many of whom play the beautiful game regularly and are big fans of Cristiano Ronaldo, got a chance to see teenage footballers set the stage ablaze with their skills and smarts. While the experience of watching world-class footballing action from the stadium was enjoyable for the girls, many of them were also left inspired by what they saw.

Saba, a young girl from Malad in Mumbai, who loves football ‘because of the way it's connected to positive thinking, remaining energetic and teamwork’, couldn’t hold her excitement back on the prospect of watching a match from the stands. She said, “I can’t wait to go inside the stadium and soak in the positivity of this atmosphere. I want to see the foreign players in action and hope to imbibe their speed and skills in my game.”

Children from an NGO in India - FIFA U17WWC

Another young girl, Janhavi, who introduced herself as an ‘attacker’ as well as the ‘captain’ of her football team, said, “I’m glad that I got introduced to football at an early age. I hope more kids around me also get the chance to play football.”

The DY Patil Stadium at Navi Mumbai has hosted some enthralling football action involving teams like Spain, Colombia and Tanzania among others. It also witnessed a thrilling quarter-final encounter between Nigeria and the USA which ended in penalties, with Nigeria eventually emerging victorious.

Talking about this initiative through which FIFA aims to ‘give back to the community’, Jaime Yarza, Director of Tournaments, FIFA, said “The ambition is to reach the young generations and bring them the joy and happiness of football. As this is about women’s football, I hope a lot of young Indian girls can see the talented and successful players here and understand that they also can reach higher in their lives” He also added, “Empowering girls – and women – is a goal we share with the Indian government, and we are convinced that watching these young footballers will inspire these girls to strive for bigger things in life in the coming years.

Apart from these young girls, more than 100,000 kids have watched matches from the stadium in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022™ till now. A huge number is expected to get added to that figure on the day of the final in Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium.

NGO girls pose with a FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022™ frame during an event in India