The saddening levels of discontent shown by cricket lovers towards the game of football in India are very disheartening. In aesthetic terms, India can never bloom the flower of multi-sporting culture unless the achievements of all sports (however small they may be) are appreciated by all. Take the example of Australia - the people down under are sports fanatics of a different dimension. People enjoy playing all sports - cricket, football, rugby, hockey, tennis, etc. And the best part is, either the national team or an individual in each sport is an Australian icon. They are producing and nurturing sporting talent faster than any developed country in the world. The USA is already a developed force and a leader in many sports across the globe, probably cricket being the only game they are gradually accepting.
Population wise, we are one of the biggest countries in the world. Then why are we not utilizing our resources and manpower to the fullest? Over the past decade or so, money is being injected from the private sector to promote the culture of cricket and hockey in our country. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is probably one of the richest sporting authorities in the world and they have come up with an absolute bomb of a tournament to mint more money.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) was a revolution-of-sorts and it popularised the gentleman`s game even further. Stadiums were upgraded, jobs were created, cricketing talent limited to the Ranji Trophy was given an international platform, and TRP levels shot sky-high. The 2011 ICC World Cup win was also a major factor that asserted our name in the world of cricket.
Similarly, hockey was given a much needed boost this year with the inaugural edition of World Series Hockey (WSH). The format was pretty much the same as IPL and the event was a delightful surprise package with international stars combining brilliantly with local talent to entertain crowds that turned out in large numbers to support their local teams.
Apart from the Indian National Hockey Team qualifying for the Olympics in 2012 (and receiving an iPad 2 EACH for doing so), another plus point of the series was that an average of 5 goals were scored throughout the tournament matches. If the hockey team wins a medal in London later this year, we could well be on the path to a multi-sporting dynasty.
In tennis, we proudly possess legends like Vijay Amritraj, Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes, but could do much better to improve the singles game if we need to dominate the tennis world. We can only make a point with regards to Olympian sports like boxing, athletics, shooting, archery and athletics by performing in London. There is probably no other way we can prove to the world our potentials.
Unfortunately in football, the money pumping process is not good enough. We still have an unsophisticated league that lacks viewership and a complex governing body that is often crucified. And when the money is pumped in, the game doesn`t seem to move forward - like in the case of Bengal`s Premier League Soccer (PLS), which HAS slowly disappeared into oblivion. Ever since the IPL was launched in 2008, the football loving youth in our country started relating to their local teams. You would find numerous Kolkatan boys and girls coming out in large numbers to support Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and at the same time remaining loyal Mohun Bagan or East Bengal fans. Similarly across any IPL city across India, the youth certainly enjoy the shorter version of cricket as well as continue to support their favourite football teams.
With harmony, all fans in India can learn to appreciate all sports and help the sporting culture grow. We have the resources, but we just need them to be channeled in the right direction with government help as well as private aid. So football fans, next time you see MS Dhoni`s men flopping oversees, please don`t torment those Sachin fans! And dearest cricket lovers, next time you see the Indian football team getting thrashed 3-0, please don’t be too harsh towards the players. After all, we are all Indians and we want to see our nation do well on all fronts. Jai Hind!
Courtesy: Goal.com/ Sarthak Dubey