Two-time World Cup-winning American forward Kristine Lilly on Saturday urged Indians to visit stadiums in large numbers and support the home team when the country organises the U-17 FIFA Women's World Cup next year.
"The success you had with the men's U-17 World Cup two years ago and now you are having this World Cup, you all are ready for it. Just fill-up the seats and show these women that you support them," said the 48-year-old former player.
Lilly, who scored 130 goals for the United States, was in the city for the official emblem launch of the tournament, scheduled to be held from November 2-21 at different venues across the country.
"India can be a great contender (in football); they need support whether they are male or female. India hosting and the girls having this opportunity to step out on the field and play for their fans, (trying) to be world champions, it will be great environment," she added.
As the host nation, India will get direct entry into the tournament. Asked about suggestions to improve the game in India, she stressed on backing the players.
"All of I know is when you dedicate and support something (thing happen). I think if you get the players that really love (the game) and have (passion) in their heart and step on the field and majority of players do want to step out and play.
"But it really comes down to respecting what you have their and showing respect for the boys and the girls and (providing) continuous support whether it is financial, coaching, fans, media, everybody has to be back up the teams.
"And next year at this time it is a great opportunity to show these women that you do support them. (Then) all those young girls can look up and says whoa and one day I can play for this team…," she said, explaining how support was crucial.
Lilly, who won the World Cup in 1991 and 1999, cited the example of the United States' women's team to prove her point, saying when they won the World Cup in 1991, only two people had welcomed them at the New York airport.
"The game has gone better (become better) and support is been there. When we were playing, we were not supported. When we won the World Cup in 1991, there were two people at the airport in New York when he got back, and we thought we were like World Champions are coming back."