"I know in 2022 there is something really big happening for Indian football. I hope India qualifies for that World Cup. That is something that should be your target and your senior players will guide you. Just follow their steps and chase your dreams," Tendulkar said at the Father Agnel School ground in Navi Mumbai.
Tendulkar spoke these encouraging words at the presentation function of the Coca-Cola Cup (National under-15 sub junior football tournament) final between Meghalaya and Orissa which the former won 1-0. The Indian cricket great also advised youngsters to be passionate about football.
"A simple advice I can give you is be passionate about the sport. Fall madly in love with the sport and that will allow you to work harder. Have dream and chase them. Dreams will come true," were maestro's words of wisdom for the kids. "Passion, yes I was able to achieve all these things. I was madly in love with cricket. Still am madly in love with cricket. Also the support and love I have received from all the people that has been my strength. It has allowed me to move out and give my best.
"The right platform was set for me to go out and perform. A big thank you to all the people who have supported me for the last 23 years I have played," he added. Tendulkar also asked runners-up Odisha team not to lose hope. Ronald Kydon Lyngdoh of Meghalaya scored the winning goal for his side in the first half and was named the player of the match.
Over 41,000 players from 2,610 schools across 86 cities competed at district, state and zonal levels to qualify for the national finals. The AIFF will be shortlisting 40 players from the tournament for the National under-16 football squad camp. In a statement, Tendulkar said, "I keenly look forward to many of the youngsters seizing this opportunity and showcasing their talent and skills. Emerging sports persons in the country require similar grassroot initiatives and competitive platforms to unlock and realise their true potential."
National football captain Sunil Chhetri said, "With the right training and infrastructure, we too can produce world class footballers and it is initiatives like this that re-instate my belief that India could make it's mark on the global football map."