India can qualify for 2022 FIFA World Cup: Sachin Tendulkar

Published: Dec 23, 2013, 01:27 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee |

'When was the last time you wanted to touch something but could not?'

This question from the host of the occasion, Mir Afsar Ali, had clearly made Sachin Tendulkar think a bit. And pat came the answer, “I cannot really remember when such a thing happened last! I had a childhood dream of lifting the World Cup (in cricket) and I did touch it in 2011 after a long wait of 22 years.”

Sachin Tendulkar and Carlos Alberto Torres
Sachin Tendulkar greets former Brazilian footballer and official FIFA World Cup 2014 Ambassador Carlos Alberto Torres (right). Pic/AFP

The question was posed to him because the FIFA World Cup was beside him, but according to the rules of FIFA, you cannot touch it unless you are a World Cup winning captain or a head of a state. The Bharat Ratna awardee was in Kolkata as a part of the promotion of the FIFA World Cup world tour by one of the sponsors, Coca Cola.

“I am really honoured to be here on this special moment. I sincerely hope that the people of Kolkata will enjoy watching this beautiful trophy and respect the rules. As far as I am concerned, 1983 was really a special year for me when I saw the World Cup in Kapil Dev’s hand in Lords. It changed everything. I told myself I wanted to do the same.

The dream started there. And I kept chasing my dream until I was able to hold it in 2011. The wait was over but the preparation, the sacrifices I had to make was worth it to accomplish the dream. I don’t think whether in cricket or in any other sport, it can get bigger than lifting the World Cup,” said Sachin yesterday.

Sachin, as the Happiness Ambassador of the beverage brand, was present in an Under 15 football tournament to promote young footballers. And his joy knew no bounds when he saw the budding stars. “I was so impressed by their energy. It was vibrant. They were playing to the true spirit of the game and took nothing for granted.

The talent is always there. You need the right platform to showcase your talent and the preparations must be thorough. We cannot expect that they will be there and start scoring goals. The preparation, the infrastructure, proper supporting staff should be there. And I really thank Coca Cola for the support they had provided to the youngsters.

It was a memorable morning for me with Sunil Chhetri beside me to talk about the nuances of the game.” India will be hosting the Under 17 World Cup in 2017. But when does he think India will be participating in the FIFA World Cup? Sachin’s reply was optimistic. “Maybe in 2022.” 

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