Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar found himself in a slightly different territory today as he pitched for football, saying that with the 2017 Under-17 World Cup coming to the country, qualifying for the 2022 senior main event is a realistic target.
"2022 sounds like a realistic target. We are hosting the 2017 World Cup, so it sounds realistic... I would like to believe that," Tendulkar said during an event of the Indian leg of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour. "We need to focus on the process. We cannot look to go directly to the 100th floor. We have got to start from the first floor and gradually climb up the building," he added.
"To participate in a big tournament like World Cup is something that does not happen overnight. It's a journey and for a journey to happen, there's a process. As I mentioned, the platform has to be provided to the young talent." Tendulkar said lot of work needs to be done to bring up talent that match the best in the world.
"To achieve those, there's a lot of hard work and planning. You have got to have proper facilities and teach the young kids. So when all those things come together at the professional level, in the sense, what the champions teams are doing," he said.
"We need to attain that level. The system has to be put in place. Then only we can expect them to compete at that level. we can't obviously expect them to go out and thrash the rest of the world. As long those gradual steps are in order, that's when the results will follow."
This is not the first time Tendulkar was associated with football as the Mumbai maestro remembered visiting the Under 15 FIFA tournament and sitting with Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri.
"I had the privilege of Sunil Chhetri next to me. The way he looks at football is completely different from what I understand. To go out and support other sport is really important. I was there to show my support to the young footballers, and some of whom I believe will participate in the World Cup in 2022," he said.