As India host their first-ever Fifa event, for most teams who have made the journey here, it is also their first time in the country. These teams have spent the last few months undergoing an intense preparatory period that has seen them undergo various drills all with the aim of adjusting to life in India a little easily.
The temperature in Mumbai peaked at 35 degrees Celsius this past week. The number is likely to breach the 36 degrees mark in the coming few weeks. Kolkata will hover around 32, while Guwahati, Goa and Kochi all are comfortably over 30-degree mark.
To beat the heat, teams have gone the extra mile ahead of the Under-17 World Cup. With India having hardly ever hosted any major international teams, most teams come here with limited experience of conditions at play. However, that hasn’t stopped most of them from doing their best to neutralise such constraints.
From acclimatisation drills to practicing on firmer playing fields, nearly every team has arrived in the country after adopting their unique methods.
Turkey, who will face New Zealand in Navi Mumbai on Friday, spent over two weeks in Qatar to acclimatise with the conditions in India better.
“We were aware of the difficulties with regards to the temperature. It was the reason why after the preparation period we came early to India. Humidity is obviously high, but we know it will affect all teams,” said Turkey coach Mehmet Hacioglu on Thursday.
“Our preparatory camp was divided into two parts. We trained closest to India (in Qatar) geographically to adjust with the conditions,” added Hacioglu.
Their opponents for Friday, New Zealand, were the first to arrive in India. They played two warm-up games and have insisted on afternoon training drills since their arrival in the country. On Wednesday, the Danny Hay-coached side trained thrice in as many different practice sessions in one day to get accustomed to the heat.
The Chilean outfit adopted an even quirkier method. The players underwent customised training exercises in a sauna before arriving in the country.
Pitching it right
Other than the heat, there is also the little matter of pitch conditions. Traditionally, Indian grounds are known to be harder than those found in the other parts of the world. With cricket grounds like DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai also playing host to games, the issue is likely to crop up a few times during the tournament. Teams have made it a point train on harder surfaces to understand the behaviour of such fields.
Beyond the playing area, the time difference is also a major factor. For the Paraguayan team, the last few days were spent playing late at night in Mumbai, with training sessions beginning at 2 am in the night.
“It was beautiful experience we had there. It was already planned,” said Paraguay coach Gustavo Morinigo. “There is a time difference of eight and half hours from Paraguay and India. The boys have done pretty well, they are accustomed now to the timing.”
Team have no stone unturned in their preparations. England, in fact, went as far as courting for tips from India senior football team coach Stephen Constantine.
It will be interesting to see how these preparations culminate on the field, when the tournament kicks-off on Friday. Will the drills douse the heat or will the conditions play a bigger role than what most have anticipated?
The tournament kicks off in Navi Mumbai as Turkey face New Zealand followed by Paraguay vs Mali at DY Patil Stadium Mumbai. In Delhi, India will square off against USA after a clash between Colombia and Ghana.
Fifa’s ban on controversial Vuvuzelas continues in India
Remember the humming sound that you could hear through your TV screens during the 2010 Fifa World Cup? Most wouldn’t as the muscial instrument - Vuvuzela - that caused the noise was subsequently banned by Fifa and by most major sporting organisations.
As per recent norms, the Vuvuzela has been included in the prohibited objects list issued by the world football body for the tournament.
“Mechanically-operated instruments which produce an excessive volume of noise such as megaphones, hooters or gas-powered horns, including vuvuzelas and whistles,” Prohibited items section of the U-17 World Cup’s Stadium Code of Conduct reads.
The plastic horn-like object had become a symbol of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa. However, the noise levels in the stands had led to complaints from teams as well as those in the stands and people watching on their television sets at home.
Fifa had banned the Vuvuzela from use at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. And the rule will also remain in place even at the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Vuvuzelas are also banned by Uefa, including the Champions League, Europa and the Euros. Wimbledon also does not permit its usage during the two-week competition. Famous sporting venues like Melbourne Cricket Ground, Yankee Stadium, Wembley Stadium too have such prohibitive laws in place for noisemakers.
Respond to this article with a post
Share your perspective on this article with a post on ScrollStack, and send it to your followers.