India U-17 team to play I-League home games in Delhi

The idea is to hold the boys together to make the cut for U-20 World Cup in 2019 for which India has submitted bid application.

The India U-17 football team will have its I-League home ground in New Delhi.   -  Prashant Nakwe

The India Under-17 side, that will play in the I-League after the upcoming Under-17 World Cup, will have its home ground in New Delhi. The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) technical committee headed by Shyam Thapa will finalise the details in a meeting in the Capital in the first week of October.

The idea is to hold the boys together to make the cut for U-20 World Cup in 2019 for which India has submitted bid application. “We want to hold on to the unit and don’t want to let go the huge investment on them. I feel the I-League will be a perfect exposure for giving them real match experience and temperament to prepare for the future,” Thapa told PTI.

“I had a meeting with the boys last month and told them they are the luckiest generation as their names will be etched in history books to have played the World Cup. It’s about making yourself count. We have to dream with the boys now.”

The move, approved by AIFF’s technical committee, is on the lines of the Pailan Indian Arrows project which was disbanded four years ago. It will see the best talent from the India Under-17 and Under-19 teams form the core of the new side.

But Thapa felt they won’t go the Arrows way this time. “We getting the support of the government and have the backing of IMG-Reliance. I’m sure the development side is the way to go and will be the future of Indian football,” he said.

Thapa said the committee took India Under-17 coach Luis Norton de Matos’ consent while arriving at the decision and would next sit with national coach Stephen Constantine for a final discussion.