Vijay Patil: It is important for all to come together

Vijay Patil feels private universities should take the lead in creating sports infrastructure, looking at students as the target audience.

Dr. Vijay Patil, President DYP Sports Academy, is proud to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the DY Patil stadium.   -  Special arrangement

FIFA-approved D. Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, the only privately-owned structure to play host to the competition, will also host the World Cup draw ceremony on Friday.

Dr. Vijay Patil, President of DYP University and DYP Sports Academy, talks about the value to India from hosting a sporting event of this level. He feels private universities should take the lead in creating sports infrastructure, looking at students as the target audience.

Excerpts:

On AIFF interest in bidding for FIFA U-20 World Cup, which represents rising Indian ambitions:

Absolutely. The AIFF has done a wonderful job by acquiring the rights for World Cup U-17. This is a starting point, a demonstration of our potential to host sporting events of world class. Studies have been done on the social and economic benefits of hosting competitions in different cities. The benefits are enormous in terms of revenue, tax collection, tourism and the intangibles, like the perception of India which can drive foreign investment and inspire confidence in the ability of a nation to develop further. Intangibles are far larger than obvious tangible benefits.

On the message India can convey by successfully hosting a FIFA-sanctioned event:

When you hold events of this scale, the reputation of the city, state and country is on line. If you look at the progressive nations in the world, developed or developing, the signs of economic prosperity and the sign that a nation has truly arrived has manifested many times through excellence at sporting events. When China hosted the Beijing Olympic Games, it was all about projecting to the world that China had arrived. The moment for us has come and it is important for all to come together. It is beyond football matches, it is about showing the world that India can host world-class action.

On the football revolution expected to happen in India after a successful World Cup conduct:

Football is the most popular sport in the world, followed by hundreds of nations and millions of spectators. We as fans have always had to cheer for other international footballers, because our national side did not get an opportunity to play in the World Cup. Given the opportunity that our country has got, as the host nation for the U-17 event, this is enormous. Many years ago it might have been wishful thinking if I had anticipated an Indian team at the World Cup. Given the fact that our U-17 side will play, I believe we will have a sufficient talent pool to play in the senior World Cup, if not in the immediate future, but within a short time.

On the reaction to India games shifted from DYP Stadium to New Delhi’s JN Stadium:

We would have loved to host India, who would not? There are world-class teams as part of this event, spectators coming here will enjoy world-class action. We will be praying for India to get through the group, as DYP is hosting one round of 16 match and also a semifinal. The wishes of the whole country is with the home team and we are waiting to host an India game in the knockout stage. To be a World Cup venue in itself is a huge honour. In a country as large as India, recognition has come about the quality of the venue for a FIFA event. I am satisfied on getting the opportunity to host the event, as a city and as the venue.

On being the only privately-owned U-17 World Cup venue, the decision to invest and returns expected:

This has been driven by passion and is something I felt deeply about. At no point did I look at it as a business opportunity.  It might be a rare occurrence for a private university here to establish sporting infrastructure of a World Cup scale and size, but not so in most private world-class universities in Australia, England, United States. I have always felt that private universities have a role to play in developing sporting infrastructure in our nation. Sporting infrastructure is an integral part of academic infrastructure, there is so much synergy between sports and studies. Students in universities are your target audience who will embrace sports and use the facilities.

On inquiries, if any, from other universities about creating infrastructure following FIFA nod for DYP stadium:

When I look around I find many universities are focusing on offering sporting infrastructure for students, taking a leaf from this initiative. It is encouraging and that is where real development occurs. Government and associations can take care of Centres of Excellence and contribute towards elite sport. The fact remains that to get world class talent, infrastructure creation at the basic level is necessary. Schools, colleges, universities can play a major role.

On the most striking aspect of watching FIFA action at DYP stadium, which fans here will carry with them:

Watching world-class athletes performing in a world-class environment is the special part fans coming here for the World Cup will carry with them. Neymar, Ronaldinho, Fabregas, Kroos… these names were at some point of time part of a U-17 World Cup squads. It would be great if more youngsters play on Indian soil and go on to represent Brazil, Argentina, Germany in senior World Cups, whose exploits we can also track in the various club competitions. I am very excited at this prospect.