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Kicking off

Kicking off

After successfully hosting the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 Championships in 2016 and the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, India was awarded hosting rights for 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup in view of maximising the game's promotion. India trumped the other bidders, Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan. Holding international sporting events is inherently instrumental in promoting the sport at the grassroots. Hosting rights pave way for large-scale measures by the host country which prepares requisite infrastructure for the tournament. Besides attracting locals of the host country to watch these games, the infrastructure is the main propellant in yielding the desired outcome of sports promotion. The infrastructure is opened to public and that enables the proliferation of the game in society. But football is no stranger in the park. The sport has a massive following albeit the same is inclined towards European football. But despite the highs that the sport is reaching today, it is very meagre when compared with Cricket. A major reason for India lagging behind other nations in football has been its inclination towards Cricket from colonial days. These hosting rights signify the strides India is making towards popularising the sport in the country. While the sport itself is making headways in Indian society, the most important character of hosting this tournament is women. Women football in India will get a huge impetus from this year's FIFA Women's U-17 World Cup as well as the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup. Both will ensure state-of-the-art infrastructure and serve well for women football at school, college, district, state as well as national levels. Both women sport and football need thrust in our society even as several NGOs and private clubs make headways to promote the game amongst people in rural sectors. Women's football has gained traction with the huge success of FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 and FIFA aspires to yield the same success in its Under-17 category. The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup has a nice slogan, 'Kick Off the Dream' that precisely describes the thrust that society requires in growing women's football. In fact, the 'Khelo India' women's league is one such example of sport growing at the grassroots. The venues of the FIFA women's U-17 World Cup are also strategically picked to promote the sports in other parts of the country. Since the North-East has become the country's face of football for both women and men, regionally balanced venues will offer a common push to the country.

(Image from dnaindia.com)

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