It was an unforgettable day for Indian football as the FIFA Legends took on a team containing Arjuna Award winner Oinam Bembem Devi, Indian women’s national team captain Ngangom Bala Devi, two kids from Mission XI Million (the legacy programme for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017), Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise Babul Supriyo and Bollywood film-maker Shoojit Sircar.
Football fans in Mumbai cheered for both teams at the match, which ended 5-4 in favour of the FIFA Legends. Fernando Morientes scored four goals, while Bala Devi was the standout performer for the Indian icons, scoring two goals and providing an assist.
Emmanuel Amuneke, winner of the FIFA U-17 World Cup with Nigeria as coach, said: “I think that when coaching U-17 players, the most important thing is to try to make sure they see you as someone who can add to their game. Try as much as you can to guide them and don’t forget that there are distractions going on in their minds. The most important thing is to bring them to a level where they can compete with teams all over the world.”
Fernando Morientes added: “Infrastructure and coaching can help create an ecosystem that can be conducive to the transition between youth and senior teams. That’s what Spain and France have been doing all these years. The infrastructure must start from school level, and continue right to the top.”
Marcel Desailly remarked: “This is a huge opportunity for Indian kids to develop the game and hopefully see their national team taking to the international stage at youth level.”
In only a month’s time, India will host its first-ever FIFA tournament, and the milestone occasion of the FIFA Legends match was made even more momentous with the launch of the competition’s Official Song, “Kar Ke Dikhla De Goal”, which roughly translates as “Show That You Can Score a Goal”.