India is slowly and steadily building a reputation for hosting major sporting events. It has earlier hosted the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and also hosted the cricket World Cup thrice - 1987, 1996 and 2011.
Come October, India will be hosting its biggest sporting event yet - a FIFA U-17 World Cup. It will be for the first time that India will be hosting a football World Cup. As a team, it will also be its first appearance in the finals of a FIFA tournament.
The preparations for the showcase event began immediately after India won the bid to host the event in 2013. The six venues selected to host the event are Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi, Goa, and Guwahati.
Let's take a look at the venues and the matches they will host.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium has been picked to kick-start the U-17 World Cup. India will also begin their campaign in Delhi and are scheduled to play United States of America on October 6. The iconic stadium has hosted various significant events including 1982 Asian Games and 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The stadium can fit in 60,000 fans but the event might see less fans considering the safety and security of players and spectators. The main pitch has been re-laid for the upcoming tournament. It will not host any matches after October 16 due to pollution concern.
DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai
The stadium which came into existence in 2008 is well known among Indian cricket fans. The arena was the home ground of IPL franchise Mumbai Indians and also hosted the finals between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in 2008.
However, in the last few years it has become a football destination. The stadium hosted the home matches of Mumbai City FC in ISL during 2014 and 2015. In 2014, it also hosted the ISL final between Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters. DY Patil can seat 51,000 spectators.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa
The football stadium in Goa is located at Fatorda in Margao. It's the smallest venue in the competition with a capacity of 19,000. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru stadium is Goa's only international stadium.
The stadium is currently the home of football clubs like Sporting Clube de Goa, Salgaocar SC, Dempo and the ISL side FC Goa. It has hosted numerous international cricket and football matches including World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
One of the most iconic stadia down south, Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is one of the largest arenas in India. The stadium has hosted numerous famous matches of the Indian cricket team. It also hosts the home matches of ISL franchise Kerala Blasters and regularly attracts a huge number of football fanatics for the football matches.
The stadium capacity is 41,738 and it will host high profile teams like Brazil, Spain and Germany. The arena was in news recently after local shop owners in the stadium complex refused to temporarily shut their shops during the World Cup. After which, the Kerala High Court has asked 236 shop owners to close their shops to fulfill the guarantee of security.
Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati
The 35,000 capacity multi-purpose stadium is the pride of north-east part of India. The stadium came into existence in 2007 for the 33rd National Games. It was one of the venues for 2016 South Asian Games. Along with that, it has hosted various World Cup qualifiers for the Indian football team. The stadia is also the home of ISL franchise NorthEast United.
Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
The most iconic football stadium in India, the Salt Lake Stadium, completes the list of match venues for U-17 World Cup. The state government spent over Rs 100 crore to refurbish the stadia for the showpiece event. FIFA officials were so impressed that they said the lobby of the stadium looks like that of a five-star hotel.
The media box, dressing rooms, lobby and the player's tunnel, everything has been revamped. The cement seats have been replaced with bucket seats and the field has also been re-laid. The stadium can seat 80,000 people, but FIFA has decided to open it only for 66,000 fans for security issues.
Feature image: AFP