Star Sports India Football Forum 2017 highlights growing importance of the game

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MUMBAI: "Star Sports has made a sincere effort in turnaround of Indian football with Participation (to build culture), Incentivization (to build career), and Commercialization model (to drive in viewership) which are the three building blocks to development." Delivering a keynote address at the Star Sports India Football Forum 2017, Gayatri Yadav, president Consumer Strategy and Innovations, Star India, noted that there are many stories in the rural areas of the country which proves that there are many heroes in India which needs to be highlighted.

"Our Khelo India’s mission is for kids to play at least 60 minutes, and the focus is to build Indian talent and the aim is to get 10,000 professional players down the line," said Ms. Yadav.

aaditya thackeray at iff 2017
Aaditya Thackeray, president, MDFA, speaking at IFF 2017.   

Javier Ceppi, tournament director, Local Organizing Committee, U17 FIFA World Cup 2017 said that the objective of bringing the U17 FIFA World Cup to India was to improve the standard of the game and woo the billions.

"Athletes are stars and need to be respected and importance needs to be given to the game rather than celebrities." He also stated that the complexion of football in the country is changing and the improvements will be noticed 10-15 years down the line. He also congratulated AIFF for supporting and reaching out to rural areas for the enhancement of football.

Meanwhile, referring to the development of grassroots football, Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League said one needs to have fire in the belly and passion to play football. Kids in modern cities have plenty of options apart from the ground games, but in North-East region the main priority is football.   Investment of time, money and energy is need of the hour. He also stated that getting the return on investments in India is a challenge currently, but it will surely bear fruits in future for the investors.

Jose Antonio Cachaza, country manager India, LaLiga, during his session on ‘Traditional TV and Digital Future’ said: ‘We are here to bring a La Liga team to India. Indian football fans now don’t just support FC Barcelona or Real Madrid, but also other clubs of La Liga. Our motive is to get it to the number 1 league in Asia, by investing a lot in grassroots tournaments, NGO programmes, and academics to improve the quality.

Aaditya Thackeray, president, Mumbai District Football Association, in a Special Address noted that the learnings from the success of the U17 FIFA World Cup don’t end here and the challenge is to take football forward with the help of the professional bodies, government and other stakeholders. Football associations need to follow the Cricket model as it is an excellent example which has seen tremendous success and popularity of the game. We have initiated Baby Leagues and other initiatives in BMC schools and with the help of Lions Club and Mumbai City FC for identifying talent. Our aim is to give access to the lowest teams and schools which will give children an aspiration to play football.

Established in 2010, the India Football Forum, the flagship property of the SportzPower Knowledge Series (SKS), brings together some of the best minds on one platform for what is the definitive conference on the business of football in this market.

The Lead Partner for IFF 2017 is STAR Sports, while the Platinum Partner is SONY Pictures Networks. The Knowledge Session Partners are Cutting Edge Events, Mumbai City FC, adidas and SportzConsult. Other Partners include IISM, Mumbai Live, ESP Properties, and The Fan Garage.