AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: Mr Vishal Dev, IAS and Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Services and Tourism, Government of Odisha claimed that hosting India U-16 and U-19 National teams has been a matter of "great pride" for the state of Odisha.
In an exclusive AIFF TV chat alongside Mr Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation and Mr R Vineel Kishna, IAS Special Secretary, Sports and Youth Services, Government of Odisha, Mr Dev also expressed his wish of seeing the budding footballers represent the country in AFC Asian Cup 2027 that India have already submitted its bid to host.
"It's a matter of great pride that we have hosted both the U-16 and U-19 National teams. It'll be a wonderful matter of great pride seeing the players, who played on our grounds, playing for the country in such a prestigious tournament. We'll look forward to the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 qualifiers when these boys will go on to represent the Blue Tigers. It's a part of the evolution of a player as well as the sports fans and administrators like us to see the team and players blossoming and representing the country at the highest stage," he averred.
"It will provide the players from the state with a wonderful platform to showcase their skills. We would want more boys and girls to get into the National Team fold based on merit. These tournaments, initiatives are wonderful platforms for that."
Mr Krishna echoed the ever-growing popularity of football in Odisha and might play the role of a trigger to push Odisha as the "hub in the future".
"Football is extremely popular in many pockets, and we see many talented footballers aspire to get into the national team system. A lot of infrastructures are being developed. After the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup we have given our consent to host the AFC Women's Asian Cup and we hope to do that as well. Football is growing very rapidly in the state and there's no reason that we can't be the hub in the future," he explained.
India have already been confirmed to host FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022. Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has also been assigned to be one of the host cities for both the prestigious tournaments.
"We have a lot of events planned in Odisha. We have shortlisted Bhubaneswar as one of the host cities for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022. Bhubaneswar will also host the FIFA World Cup qualifier India v Qatar match but again, it should be hosted adhering to certain guidelines laid down by the MHA and the Government. We want to see Odisha as the hub of Indian Football in the future," Mr Das stated.