The FIFA U-17 World Cup has been a grand success for India as host: Though the team could not bring glory, it earned respect with their competitive display.
The governing body of football, FIFA, was also impressed with the way the competition was held, with fans turning in huge numbers.
In terms of attendance, India has also managed to beat the 22-year-old record of China.
The first edition of the competition in China witnessed 1,230,976 footfalls, and the recently concluded event in India saw 1,239,100 spectators making it to the six match venues.
Such kind of attendance just shows that the sport is moving in the right direction despite cricket ruling the roost. Even the FIFA chief claimed that the U-17 World Cup in India was a success.
Current India senior team captain Sunil Chhetri is pleased with the recognition and wants this event to be used as a launching pad for Indian football. "The biggest gain for us is that Indian football has been recognised at the world stage. This is the best opportunity to cash in and make it count," IANS quoted Chhetri as saying.
India football on the rise
It would not be wrong to say Indian football is entering an exciting phase. The national team is doing fairly well, and the young guns of the nation have shown that they are capable of delivering the goods if given a chance.
This FIFA U-17 World Cup has brought some big Indian names to the fore, with some of them reportedly attracting interest from foreign clubs.
ISL has been another major successful competition in the last couple of years, and such events will only help Indian football in the long run.
It would not come as a major surprise if other big stars come and play in ISL after learning about the passionate football fans here.
AIFF has to play a key role
The AIFF might have received a major shot in the arm on being hailed for a successful competition.
This is just the start, and the football authorities need to ensure that this is not a flash in the pan, and look to constantly bid for other major events like the U-20 World Cup.
The AIFF also needs to ensure that the talented young guns of the country are taken care of, so India can become a better footballing nation in the years to come.
It cannot just bask in the glory of the FIFA U-17 World Cup: It is time to show the world the sleeping giant has finally woken up.