Sachin Tendulkar found himself in a slightly different territory on Sunday as he pitched for football,saying that with the 2017 Under-17 World Cup coming to the country,qualifying for the 2022 senior main event is a realistic target.
“2022 sounds like a realistic target. We are hosting the 2017 World Cup,so it sounds realistic… I would like to believe that,” Tendulkar said during an event of the Indian leg of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour.
“We need to focus on the process. We cannot look to go directly to the 100th floor. We have got to start from the first floor and gradually climb up the building,” he added.
“To participate in a big tournament like World Cup is something that does not happen overnight. It’s a journey and for a journey to happen,there’s a process. As I mentioned,the platform has to be provided to the young talent.”
Tendulkar said lot of work needs to be done to bring up talent that match the best in the world.
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“To achieve those,there’s a lot of hard work and planning. You have got to have proper facilities and teach the young kids. So when all those things come together at the professional level,in the sense,what the champions teams are doing,” he said.
“We need to attain that level. The system has to be put in place. Then only we can expect them to compete at that level. we can’t obviously expect them to go out and thrash the rest of the world. As long those gradual steps are in order,
that’s when the results will follow.”
This is not the first time Tendulkar was associated with football as the Mumbai maestro remembered visiting the Under 15 FIFA tournament and sitting with Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri.
“I had the privilege of Sunil Chhetri next to me. The way he looks at football is completely different from what I understand. To go out and support other sport is really important. I was there to show my support to the young footballers,and some of whom I believe will participate in the World Cup in 2022,” he said.
“I was so impressed by the energy. It was so vibrant. They were so competitive. You have to respect your opposition in any sport and not take things for granted. It’s important to play in the right spirit. They were all fighting so hard to lift the Trophy. With a billion people in India,talent is definitely there,” Tendulkar pointed out.
Clad in a red T-shirt,Tendulkar hogged the limelight as he graced the city for the first time after his retirement last month.
Tendulkar said he was honoured to be here.
“It’s a special moment. I hope all the people from Kolkata will enjoy the Trophy and respect the rules and regulations.”
Tendulkar said his life had come a full circle after winning the World Cup in 2011 and holding the World Cup Trophy is the ultimate moment for a sportsperson.
“1983 was an important year of my life. I saw the Cup at the Lord’s in Kapil Dev’s hands. It was a big moment. When I saw that I told myself I want to be there in that position one day.
“I had to chase my dream really hard. That’s when the dream started. I had to wait for 22 years. But I was all prepared to do that with all the hard work and the sacrifices that came with it. I was ready to do all that as long as my dream was accomplished,” he said.
“I cannot forget that moment when we landed in Mumbai for the final. I drove quietly with my wife in my car and boarded the team bus. The discussion was that in two days’ time,we play the World Cup finals. The atmosphere was just unreal,” he added.
“That victory lap was special. The golden moment was when I held the trophy in my hands. That’s what I played for. Then,I realised that my life has turned a full circle. The number of years,wherever I have travelled or done for India,this was on the top…It was the icing on the cake,” he added.
Hosting U-17 football World Cup will inspire kids: Sourav Ganguly
A self-confessed football fan,Sourav Ganguly today hoped Indian football would get a huge boost by hosting the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and said he
was looking forward to see Brazil in its elements in the 2014 extravaganza.
“I’m sure the 2017 World Cup will give a big push to the sport. It will bring young kids back to the fields. I know cricket attracts a lot of kids who want to be like Sachin or nowadays Virat Kohli,” the former India captain said.
“U-17 World Cup 2017 will bring a lot of young boys. It’s a fantastic sport. The passion and the excitement the sport can generate is unbelievable,” he said on the sidelines of FIFA World Cup’s India leg tour.
“I’m sure all of us will agree that the sport has taken a beating in Kolkata and India. It needs a massive push to bring it back to where it was. Kolkata will remain always the heart of football. We all want to see the game go back to where it was.”
Batting for Brazil,Ganguly further added: “Football in Brazil is complete different. Football is at its greatest when Brazil are at their best. They have the team to win the Trophy.
“I’m keen to watch Neymar who has set the world on fire. Hope he stays fit. He can make a massive difference to Brazil.
“If Brazil is the heart of world football,Kolkata is the heart of Indian football,” he added.
Ganguly said he grew up watching football.
“I’m a massive football fan. I make sure to watch it. World Cup football is unbelievable. It glues you on to TV.
I’ve grown up watching football and took up cricket at very late age,” Ganguly said.
“The World Cup football is such a massive event to everyone. We talk about cricket such a big sport in the country. Imagine football,which is played in more than 200 countries around the world. How big the World Cup event would be?
“I’ve seen football of our golden era. I remember finishing school in the afternoon and take the bus to Mohun Bagan and East Benga to watch football from the gallery,” Ganguly remembered.
Welcoming former Brazilian captain Carlos Alberto Torres,the lefthander further hoped that Brazil would be at their best when they host the next year’s World Cup.
“It’s great to have Carlos Albrerto (Torres) here. It’s great to see Brazil host the World Cup. Carlos said we’re getting there. Hopefully,it will be a complete bonanza.”
Sitting beside newly-crowned Bharat Ratna,Tendulkar,Ganguly further said: “It’s a fantastic award for a fantastic cricketer. You look a lot fresher. That’s what the retirement does.”