NEW DELHI: Almost 1,20,000 school students are expected to watch the ongoing FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Bhubaneswar, Navi Mumbai and Goa, the world governing body of the sport said in a statement on Monday.
In the opening week of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, the tournament has already attracted a lot of warmth from football fans in the country. The initiative was undertaken jointly by the tournament's Local Organising Committee and FIFA at the three venues in Bhubaneswar, Margao and Navi Mumbai.
For Jaime Yarza, Director of Tournaments, FIFA, the sight of the children having fun in Navi Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium are a stand-out moment.
"The matches, where the kids are dancing, celebrating, and laughing, created the 'pictures of the day' for me," he said.
"The joy of watching the tournament take-off is even sweeter for him because of the uncertainty that surrounded its fate due to the pandemic.
"It was a hard time for a lot of people, especially for those who were here for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017," Yarza said.
"Having experienced the passion that we did back then, it was hard to be unsure if it (the 2022 tournament) could happen in India. So, now seeing the games being played, it's a real pleasure for all of us."
Yarza also shed light on the genesis of the initiative that has made it possible for the kids to witness some enthralling football action.
"Three months ago, I was here for a meeting with the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Anurag Thakur. I told him that I want to give back to the community by bringing kids to the matches and giving them a great experience. He was completely aligned with us on the idea and called the sports ministers of the respective states to ensure that the kids are invited to the stadiums," he informed.
Nandini Arora, who is one of the Project Directors of the tournament, also spoke about the initiative. She said, "Through this tournament, we want to promote the ideas of equality and inclusion. We want these boys and girls to come and see how well these young women can play."