MDFA bids for National Centre of Excellence

President Aditya Thackeray took the lead in updating infrastructure at the Andheri Sports Complex, now called the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA).

Brazil and New Zealand footballers in action during the FIFA U-17 World Cup practice match at the MFA in Mumbai.   -  PRASANT NAKWE

The Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) has made a bid for the National Centre of Excellence, proposed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), according to MDFA president Aditya Thackeray.

He informed about the current proceedings at the Grassroots Development Summit 2017, organised by the Mumbai City FC here on Tuesday.

Thackeray took the lead in updating infrastructure at the Andheri Sports Complex, now called the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA). The FIFA U-17 World Cup teams New Zealand, Brazil and England trained on the grass surface and appreciated the quality. The national team and U-23 camps are held at the MFA too.

The MDFA president said: “I have requested the AIFF unofficially to consider our bid seriously. Maharashtra has the potential to become the new footballing hub.”

Besides MFA and the Neville D’Souza Football Turf at Bandra Reclamation, he was keen on creating two more facilities — at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and in Worli. “The goal is to bring football back to Mumbai.”

The FIFA U-17 World Cup is a boost for football, but he felt that further development is the need of the hour. “We have woken up a country by hosting the World Cup. It is up to all stakeholders in football what we make out of the event when it gets over,” he added.

Brazil (based in Kochi and Goa), England (based in Kolkata) flew to Mumbai for training and match practice at the MFA before flying to its respective bases.