If you were to be asked which was the sport gaining popularity in India in recent times, your answer would most definitely be football. Although an upcoming sport, football had made a huge mark in the North East part of India in the 1980s. A proof for this still stands tall today in the form of the Salt Lake Stadium or Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, West Bengal.
The stadium has recently been in news as it was announced as the venue for the final of the prestigious Under-17 FIFA World Cup which is being hosted by our country this year.
An unbelievable fact, prior to its renovation in 2011, it was the second largest football stadium in the world and before the construction and opening of the Rungrado May Day Stadium in North Korea in 1989, it was the largest football stadium in the world, seating about 1,20,000 people! That is larger than any of the renowned football stadiums in countries England, Spain or Germany you have ever dreamt of going to!
The concrete benches in the galleries are being replaced with bucket seats to upgrade the stadium for the World Cup. The flip side of comfort is that the capacity of the stadium would drop drastically from 1,10,000 to 84,000, which means Yuva Bharati Krirangan would lose pride of place among the largest stadiums in the world in terms of seating.
The stadium’s highest recorded attendance was in 1997 when 1,31,781 spectators watched the Federation Cup Semifinal between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
Feel your chest getting pumped up and chin trying to reach the sky?
That’s not all. Legendary footballers like Diego Maradona, Oliver Kahn and Lionel Messi have also graced this pitch on their visits to India!
The Salt Lake Stadium has been home to some of the best sporting events in the history of our country and this is the reason why our government is working so very hard in making it a cream of the cake stadium for the upcoming Under-17 World Cup.
The mammoth stadium other than its size and history can become popular a tourist attraction due to the youth being fond of football as much as cricket and wanting to visit this ‘Home of Indian Football.’ It is a strong belief amongst Indians that football can gain a really strong foothold in the country’s roots due to teenagers choosing an exhilarating fast-paced quick game of 90 minutes over a 4 hour long cricket match.
From qualifying for the 1950 FIFA World Cup (from which we were disqualified because the players could not buy football boots due to financial reasons and played barefoot), to constructing such a state-of-the-art football stadium, we surely have come a long way in developing the sport in India.
With Grass being imported all the way from the United States, construction of new gates and wider roads and the provision of a helipad, the Salt Lake stadium is in the middle of a Rs 52-crore makeover for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup that it will co-host with five other venues next year. India’s largest amphitheatre of sport aims to be ready for its biggest event at least 11 months before the September 2017 kick-off
Hurry! Add a visit to India’s very own Wembley stadium to your bucket list right now!
We at UdChalo wish all the crew members the very best to prepare this beautiful stadium that shall cast a spell on every viewer and make it a dream of every person to go and visit it!