Fancy footwork

Just like the rest of the world, India is crazy for “the beautiful game” and this summer has proven to be no different.

Despite the country’s absence from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, interest has remained high and fans looked on eagerly this June and July as the world watched some great performances from the top international teams.

Football is the perfect example of how participation and prowess do not count for everything; simply enjoying and appreciating the sport is enough to engage fans from all walks of life.

And India is certainly not lacking in either enthusiasm or skill when it comes to football. Things are also looking up for the national football team, but more on that later.

India In FIFA World Cup Someday?

Every year, the FIFA World Cup sees the globe sit up and pay attention to international football. A unique opportunity to experience the passion and pride of players competing for their home country, this competition unites the world in a month filled with emotionally charged matches and edge-of-your-seat drama.

Whereas the unofficial national sport of India is still cricket, the popularity of football is on the rise and this is partly down to inclusive contests like the World Cup.

Furthermore, the recent success of the Indian football team qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup is driving a push towards claiming glory in the sport of football too.

Captain Sunil Chettri has a young and eager, but well qualified, squad made up of players mostly from the millennial generation. This injection of new blood into the team may just mark a change in India’s football fortune as they push towards entering the big leagues.

Will The Success Of FIFA Travel To The 2018 Premier League?

Back in the UK, the English Premier League is now well underway and worth a watch by all football fans. With some big matches approaching in the coming weeks, all eyes are on those players who took part in the FIFA World Cup earlier this summer.

Will they match the steady success of the England team now that they’re back home? Spurs’ Dele Alli answered a resounding ‘yes’ to this question when he scored against Newcastle within just 20 minutes of the match starting.

Although the patriotism inspired by international competitions can be a lot of fun, simply watching football for the game’s sake is the ultimate pleasure. English teams now represent a massive export for the country, and Manchester United, in particular, are big favourites across India.

Wherever they are in the world, football fans can recognise and appreciate good quality playing when they see it. With the advancement of internet connections and portable screens in laptops, tablets and mobile phones, football games are accessible in a way never experienced before.

The legend, Sunil Chettri

Read More: In Pics: In 1948 Olympics In London, India Almost Beat France To Change The Course Of Indian Football

Football in India

Although there may not have been an Indian team competing in the FIFA World Cup this year, the upcoming Asian Cup will see Sunil Chettri’s squad take their place on the pitch.

The team is feeling positive about the approaching challenges and India’s football fans are behind them one hundred percent. Progression in the Asian Cup inevitably raises questions about re-entry to the World Cup, but for now, the team is concentrating on their recent tangible success.

2017 saw India host a FIFA event for the first time, with the U-17 World Cup taking place in host cities as diverse as Kolkata, New Delhi and Kochi.

Spurred on by this achievement, a bid has been submitted to host both the 2019 U-20 World Cup and the 2023 Women’s World Cup. All of this evidence points to how the new generation of Indian footballers are on a steady path to gain dominance in Asian and eventually world football.

For a nation so accomplished in team sports like cricket and kabaddi, it seems only natural that India would invest such an interest in the world’s most beloved team game.

Slowly but surely, the national team are working on their proficiency and initiatives like the Indian Super League only continue to grow in size and popularity. Football in India is on the up, and it’s the younger generation in particular who are driving its progress.

Image Credits: Photo by Phillip Kofler CC0 and Photo by (Kapil Chettri) CC BY 3.0

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