Bangalore, December 7: These are good times for football in Bangalore. The grand entry of I-League club Bengaluru FC has pulled big crowds to the Bangalore Football Stadium, and the sport is now set to receive yet another boost.
On Thursday evening, India was named as the host of the prestigious 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup, and Bangalore — one of the six venues — will see some of the brightest talents in action.
“We are absolutely delighted; this is a momentous occasion for Bangalore and India. This gives us the impetus to build top-class football infrastructure here,” said Karnataka State Football Association President, A.R. Khaleel on Friday. He indicated that the current stadium would undergo a makeover to match the demands of hosting such a big event. “The plan is to demolish three wings of the Bangalore Football Stadium; we will have to more or less rebuild the entire facility. We are targeting a seating capacity of 45,000.”
Mr. Khaleel, who is also vice-president of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF), said the organisers had the backing of the State government. “We want to work closely with the State government, and we are awaiting permission to commence the construction work. The government will certainly assist us in our efforts,” he said.
“In order for a city to host matches, the AIFF requires a few assurances from State governments — security measures, tax exemptions and other details. The Karnataka government has already assured us of everything we need. Bangalore is certain to be one of the venues,” he said. The veteran administrator indicated that all preparation are expected to be completed a year before the tournament begins.
Carlton Chapman, a former Indian football team captain, is hopeful that the World Cup will bring better days. “Bangalore is expanding; huge buildings are coming up everywhere. That is great, but there are no sports grounds anywhere. Where do the children play?” Mr. Chapman said.
“Now, the World Cup will force the administrators to build grounds as part of the infrastructure initiatives. Our children need open spaces to play whichever sport they like.”
The Bangalorean added that the mega-event provided an opportunity to build a football stadium in every district in Karnataka, in order to aid easy access to the sport. “In Goa, if you travel from Madgoan to Panaji, you can find 20 football grounds. Similarly, Shillong has quite a few full-fledged stadiums as well. If they can have good facilities, why can’t Karnataka?”