India confirmed for International Cup
Thursday, March 13 2008 @ 07:10 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Ash Nugent
The AFL today confirmed that India will send a team to this year's International Cup. Two AFL India board members, Ravinder Chadha and Pranab Bhattacharya were last week able to attend a coaching course at AFL House along with two Chinese delegates. This is a promising step, with India's previous attempts to send delegates to Australia hampered by visa difficulties.
Chadha predicted "rapid growth" for football in India in the next five years, and expressed his desire to see Australian football played in several of India's major population centres. He highlighted the possibility of matches against neighbouring China and nearby Japan (no mention of Pakistan was made) and even suggested that famous cricket stadiums such as Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium or Kolkata's Eden Gardens, with the capacity to hold tens of thousands of spectators, might be sought out to host an AFL exhibition match in a few years time. If successful this would be a big win, as in the past the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been unwilling to open their facilities for external use. Ironically, the Indian cricket team were given Australian football lessons during their recent tour of Australia.
Football's growth in India was initiated by ex-Melbourne footballer Brian Dixon on his 2006 World Tour.