Belinda Wilson, Football Regional Consultant of FIFA is confident that next year’s Under-17 Women’s World Cup which will be hosted in India is bound to inspire young girls in the country to take up the sport. The event – the seventh edition overall – will take place between November 2 and 22 in 2020 and with a total of 16 teams participating, it has got the Indian football fraternity buzzing.

In 2017, India had successfully hosted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup for men, which went a long way in increasing the popularity of the sport, and with the World Cup for women next in line, the future of football is beginning to look promising in India.

“The level of performance will depend on the level of preparations and I am quite confident that what I have seen so far the level of planning is really great. There will be a number of competitive games that’ll be played before the World Cup and I am confident India will be ready,” Wilson told Times of India.

“Women’s football in India is fast improving. It has come a long way in a short amount of time. You will see more and more investments being made in women’s football in India.”

Currently in India to monitor the preparations, Wilson feels the standard of women’s football in India has improved drastically with investments being made in both the youth and senior sectors, but mentioned that for growth to continue, next year’s World Cup will be crucial. The tournament promises to galvanize the face of Indian football, igniting hopes of India’s participation in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“If India creates a bigger pool of players who will play week in and week out, then in the future we can see India playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. If you look at the USA, they have a massive pool of players in terms of women’s football. The competition, the number of teams participating makes a huge impact. That helps coaches to select players from a bigger pool,” Wilson added.

“I feel the U-17 World Cup next year will prove to be a catalyst for women’s football in India. The U-17 World Cup will inspire more and more young girls who are 8 years, 9 years of age to take up football. When they see and get along with the buzz of the tournament, naturally they will be attracted to the sport – and gradually fall in love with the sport.”