2017 seems to be an exciting year for football in India. With discussions of a Super League to start off the year and the release of the FIFA rankings, fans of the sport have a lot to look forward too. Having lived in the shadow of cricket for so many years, football finally seems to be seeing its time in the limelight. The current excitement surrounding the sport is giving player and fans hope for a compelling future.
India’s government and football associations are making sure that the sport starts to have grassroots within the country. In nations such as the United Kingdom, football opportunities present themselves to the youth from the age of 3 and beyond. Very few programs such as those exist in India. A new tournament initiative called Mission XI Million (MXIM) has sunk its teeth into developing young players in the country. The ultimate goal of MXIM is to “build the football ecosystem and ultimately widen the talent pool for the various national teams.” The program has intentions to stretch throughout 36 cities, hoping to reach 11 million children. With the upcoming U-17 FIFA World Cup is set to help put Indian football on the global map. Such initiative as MXIM will allow the world to see the potential the country has for future footballers.
It seems as though the most recent FIFA rankings are to blame for the massive buzz happening for Indian football. Having won two major international games against Nepal and Kyrgyzstan, the fans and players alike seem to be on a football high. Not only did these wins give the country the boost they so desperately needed, but the national team has also made history. In March, the team was ranked at 132nd in the world. An astonishing leap in two months now puts the Blue Tigers in 100th place. Experts are predicting that they when the July rankings are released, India could even be seen in as high as 98th place. If this proves to be the case, this will be the highest the team has ranked in over 21 years. With all of these monumental movements in Indian football, it is no wonder the country is raving with passion.