'Preparing to deliver a top event'

'Preparing to deliver a top event'

India will benefit, says tournament director

200 days from now, India will host their first-ever FIFA championship — the U-17 World Cup. While the national team, under Luis Norton de Metos, is sweating it out to be ready for the biggest test, where does the country stand as a host? In a interview with DH, the tournament director, Javier Ceppi threw light on the infrastructure developments, the FIFA inspection, its legacy plan and so on. Excerpts:

On India’s preparedness: With 200 days to go, it’s good to see the World Cup is gaining momentum. This being the first FIFA event in the country, we plan to go all out on this. We are treating it as the World Cup. We are truly committed to living up to the expectations by delivering a world class event and really hope that the U-17 World Cup changes football in India forever.

On the FIFA inspection, which starts on Wednesday: Work at various venues are at an advanced stage. We have enough time to do proper testing and corrections before October. Infrastructure works at each of the stadiums and training sites is in full swing and only minor areas need attention.

There are certain areas that have been delayed on purpose, such as the painting of the stadiums and the installation of bucket seats because we want the stadiums to show their best when the tournament comes. The training sites have different timelines and we are looking at all of them being ready by end of May or beginning of June.  Right now, the focus is on all the operational planning and we’re working closely with all the stakeholders in areas such as transport, promotions, security, accommodation and operations.

On the tournament schedule: With the World Cup being spread across the country, we want to ensure the teams don’t lose much time in travelling. It’s one of the reasons why it has taken us so long to firm up the match schedule. We need to minimise the travel time for all the teams. We feel 95% of this goal can be achieved, but then the five percent is something we can’t address given the geography of the country.

On the legacy plan for the infrastructure: We are currently working with all the facility owners to make a proper operational plan for all the facilities so that they can use it in the future. Also, we want to ensure that the four training grounds per venue are used for football purpose by colleges, communities, schools, etc. This is something huge for India and we are working to see how they can be sustained in time.