I had been waiting for this since before the Official Draw and now the day had finally arrived. FIFA U-17 World Cup was for the 1st time being held in India across six venues all over India. I’d mentioned a few posts ago about how I got to be a part of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India Official Draw.
When it comes to World Cups, I’ve only watched a grand total of 2. And it was a rollercoaster of emotions! I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d get to watch one anytime soon. Let alone be a part of the team behind it. I was in the marketing team this time around as well. Our team had to assist a FIFA official who turned out to be the coolest ‘boss’ ever. Our main goal was to help and make sure that Mumbai was ready for the first match in time.
Day 1 consisted of me following her around, asking questions, learning new things and having a lot of fun. When the first match day rolled in, we were in for a surprise. Mumbai rains decided to pay us a visit in style with thunderstorms and stayed to enjoy the first two games. An exciting albeit gloomy start to our biggest event! As much as I was looking forward to the 6th, I couldn’t wait for what the next day had in store for us. 7th October 2017 was the day my aunt and I got to watch our first FIFA World Cup match as spectators. An extremely special moment for my aunt, as she got to watch her favourite team; Germany play live. An Impromptu trip, our first live World Cup match, me donning a Bayern Munich jersey for the first and last time despite of being a Spain fan and Germany winning their first game made this the best trip ever!
Another gloomy match day filled with heavy rains and exciting football got me all hyped up. Our last match for group stage was 4 days later and we were already prepared. When the 12th rolled in, we got to witness two new teams play. USA vs Columbia was the game everybody came in to watch, except for the Mumbai rains. Clear skies, an interesting match and a packed stadium was an experience. With just two more matches left, my dream of watching Spain live was one step closer to becoming a reality. The round of 16 match between Ghana vs Niger took place on the 18th and was supposed to be an interestingly tough game. But the day came and went by so quick, we couldn’t believe it ourselves. With a break of a whole week between this match and the last, I couldn’t help but anticipate who we’d see in the semi-finals. Secretly hoping Spain would arrive in Mumbai.
Spain made it through to the semis and were going against Mali in Mumbai and I was beyond excited! Everyone was hands on for our final match in Mumbai, bracing ourselves for the Semis. Spain seemed to be the favourites but most of the crowds wanted Mali to win. I watched the match on the big screen cheering for Spain and screaming and jumping around every time we scored. The stadium was packed, and their energy was off the roof. As soon as I heard the final whistle, I ran towards their dressing room, clutching my jersey like my life depended on it. I waited around the whole time, trying to get it signed. Despite shortcomings, this has and will be the best experience of my life and I will forever cherish it.
I will forever be grateful to FIFA for giving my aunt and myself the opportunity of coming forward as volunteers and experiencing FIFA in a different way. Being a part of the first ever FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted by India was a surreal experience. Getting my Jersey signed by the U-17 Spain team was the most exciting and nerve-wracking experience ever!! We got to watch our favourite teams, lived every football fan’s dream and made new friends.
We were a part of history and no one can take that away from us.