- The first FIFA event on Indian soil has been an unqualified success. The Under-17 World Cup came to a close on Saturday with a riveting final in Kolkata, the quality of the football exemplifying what the competition had been all about. There was little of the dour, cautious play that is a feature of major finals at senior level; England and Spain instead attacked with freedom, making for an engrossing spectacle, with England taking the game away in the second half.
- The likes of England’s Phil Foden, adjudged player of the tournament, and his team-mate Rhian Brewster, the top- scorer, are clearly stars in the making. India embraced the tournament wholeheartedly, with the turnout over the three weeks shattering previous attendance records for a FIFA youth tournament. Over 1.3 million people thronged the stadiums, with the crowds in football-crazy Kolkata in particular a sight to behold. While the Guwahati semifinal had to be moved because rain had damaged the turf, and there were issues with the distribution of drinking water on the first match-day, things by and large went off smoothly. India proved it could deliver a world-class event. And the improvement in infrastructure, with new training grounds built and existing stadiums upgraded, should ensure a longer legacy for football in the country.
- India’s U-17 players got the sort of exposure and opportunity that they would not otherwise have. The home team did not progress beyond the group stage — which was hardly a surprise — but it was not completely embarrassed either. It was evident that with more competitive experience the players could have registered a better performance. The footballers captured the imagination of the public, with players like goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh and midfielder Jeakson Singh, who became India’s first goal-scorer in a FIFA tournament, becoming household names. Football, for once, took centre-stage. There is a sense, as the local organising committee’s Project Director, Joy Bhattacharjya, put it, that football has reached a tipping point in India with the U-17 World Cup. This moment must be seized. Youth development in Indian football has hitherto been non-existent, except in a few, devoted academies. More organised, competitive football, starting from the youngest of age groups, is vital. A national U-15 league was started two years ago; a U-13 league is scheduled to begin soon. The 5-12 age group must now be the focus, with the involvement of local clubs; in this regard, India is light years behind the world’s footballing superpowers. The All India Football Federation has already expressed a desire to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019. But having competently staged a global event, it is more important now to focus on the grassroots. Else, the cheer that accompanied Jeakson’s strike against Colombia may remain only a memory.
Rivet: completely engrossing; compelling.
Example: The book is a riveting account of the legendary freedom fighter
Exemplify: be a typical example of.
Example: Rock bands that best exemplify the spirit of the age
Synonyms: typify, epitomize, be a typical example of, represent, be representative of
Dour: relentlessly severe, stern, or gloomy in manner or appearance.
Example: A hard, dour, humorless fanatic
Synonyms: stern, unsmiling, unfriendly, severe, forbidding, gruff, surly
Engrossing: absorb all the attention or interest of.
Example: The notes totally engrossed him
Synonyms: absorbing, interesting, riveting, gripping, captivating
Adjudge: consider or declare to be true or the case.
Example: She was adjudged guilty
Synonyms: judge, deem, find, pronounce, proclaim, rule, hold, determine
Embrace: accept or support a belief, theory, or change willingly and enthusiastically.
Example: Besides traditional methods, artists are embracing new technology
Synonyms: welcome, welcome with open arms, accept, take up, take to one’s heart
Throng: fill or be present in a place or area.
Example: A crowd thronged the station
Synonyms: crowd, cluster, mill, swarm, surge, congregate, gather
Behold: see or observe a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one.
Example: Behold your king!
Synonyms: see, observe, view, look at, watch, survey, witness, gaze at/upon
Upgrade: an act of upgrading something.
Example: Well, I thought you might have got a room upgrade
Exposure: the state of being exposed to contact with something.
Example: The dangers posed by exposure to asbestos
Synonyms: subjection, vulnerability, laying open
Evident: plain or obvious; clearly seen or understood.
Example: She ate the cookies with evident enjoyment
Synonyms: obvious, apparent, noticeable, conspicuous, perceptible
Tip: overbalance or cause to overbalance so as to fall or turn over.
Example: The hay caught fire when the candle tipped over
Synonyms: overturn, turn over, topple over, fall over, keel over
Hitherto: Until now or until the point in time under discussion.
Example: There is a need to replace what has hitherto been a haphazard method of payment
Synonyms: previously, formerly, earlier, before, beforehand, so far
Competently: in an efficient and capable way.
Example: Our government’s ability to cope competently with disasters