is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice,
dedication and respect for authority-Vince Lombardi.
Ever since I was a little girl I watched my
Dad follow football religiously. Every FIFA World Cup, he would stay up late or
wake up really early to watch twenty two players run around with a big round
ball; kicking, tackling and blocking; all the time playing to put the ball behind
the line defeating the gigantic man manning them. But it wasn’t until the 1998
World Cup that I was sucked into the frenzy too. I remember watching Davor
Suker play some of the most amazing football. Ofcourse it helped that he was breathtaking
to look at too. I watched him become the top goal scorer and also win the
Golden Boot. I was awed by him and the game too. It was that year that my love
affair began with the wonderful game of football.
Well now three world cups and countless favorite
players later, I love the thrills and the tackles; I love the free kicks and
the corners and I love the cheering of the fans and the passion.
Till recently I didn’t know that our
National Football Team had actually qualified for the FIFA World Cup as early
as 1950 but they couldn’t travel to Brazil due to the cost and also for valuing
the Olympics more than the former. Ofcourse after that qualification has only
been a dream. Do you know the FIFA ranking of our team? It’s 164 and the best
ever being 94. A sport in which our country is so much behind the FIFA
standards; mind you not for the lack of talent but opportunity and support from
the government; I am often asked why the craze? But then a sport is a sport;
ofcourse if India would be right there up in the running it would definitely be
the cherry on the cake. But for that our Government and the Sports ministry
needs to back the players and associations. Apart from that the players and the
families need to be ensured too of a steady and decent income; for them to
seriously take up the sport.
Just few days back I heard a five year old
boy talk about Tendulkar, Dhoni and Cricket. It made me wonder the reach of
Cricket in our society and in the psyche of our country. Let alone a five year
old, can a thirty year old without having to Google tell us who the members of
our current Indian National Football Team are? Do you even know that our team
is two time South Asian Football Federation Cup Champion? I am sure the answer
will be in the negative.
Sometimes I wonder why the apathy towards
any other sport apart from Cricket and perhaps Tennis to a certain extent. A
country which doesn’t do enough for its National Sport, hockey, can hardly
dream of achieving accolades and feats in others.
A lot needs to change; we need to
revolutionize our outlook towards sports as a country. We need to widen our
perspective; look beyond Cricket. Nothing personal against the sport, but there
is so much more, so many avenues that we as a country need to explore in terms
of sports. There is a dire need for academies and institutions which give
sponsorships to players; who train them and give them an opportunity to harness
their talents. Leagues within the country which pays too; for it is difficult
for people to leave the comforts of steady paying jobs and give everything to a
sport other than cricket when they know they’ll only be paid peanuts in return
and sometimes even that is hard to come by.
serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence-George F. Will ‘.
Children in our country are force fed the dreams of becoming either a doctor or
an engineer. Have you asked yourselves why? There is simply no security or
backing available to look around for something else. But again, hopefully one
day the sun will rise in an India where players apart from cricketers and
tennis stars too are given equal importance and respect. As I pen this article
watching a match between Germany and Portugal, I harbor a secret desire to
watch India play in the FIFA World Cup atleast once in my life time. I pray to
see the Blue Tigers in action Amen!